Help re court proceeding needed!

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E22osT

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I have recently been summoned to court. This was without the offer to pay a Penalty Fare as was promised me on that day.

My case has gone for hearing, this is after I was advised that I do not need to attend the first date if I intend to plead not guilty and want witnesses etc to be called. The original court summons contained a statement which was incorrect. They wanted to paint the picture of a real fare evader so stated that that I had been approached during my journey, asked to produce my ticket which I was unable to do. I refused to provide my details and after strong questioning and cautioning I admitted that I did not have money to pay for my fare. This is entirely untrue and upon discussion with the Revenues prosecutor he alluded to the fact that my case may have been sent to court because of the seriousness of this statement. So my response to the court summons was that I was not guilty and I would like further evidence submitted.

Fortunately on the day of the incident a British Transport police officer assisted and his statement states what really happened. Although I have been told that I cannot get access to this until the court proceedings have finished. The court would need to request for it, is this correct?

Basically I found myself in this situation because I wanted to change from buying weekly travelcards as I usually do to buying monthly. I arrived at wood street station and went to the ticket machine to get a monthly pass on my oyster. The machine did not give me the option of a monthly and I did not understand why. There was no one at the ticket office to assist me and I was concerned that there was something wrong with the machine. I have been able to buy tickets at Liverpool Street station in the past when the machine had not given me my railcard discount so I thought it would be ok to buy my monthly travelcard at Liverpool Street.

So I arrive and confidently walk up to one of the men manning the station and ask to buy a monthly travelcard explaining that for some reason I was unable to do so at the machine (I later discovered that this was due to the fact that your oyster card needs to be registered at a station before you can buy monthly passes). He then decided he would not give me my ticket but instead would give me a Penalty Fare. I thought this was entirely unfair but he refused to budge. I explained to him that the only reason why I made this mistake was because I usually buy weekly as I am a temp and my contract can be terminated on a weeks notice. The budget was tight this month so I had sought some kind of assurance from work that I would be there at least a month and decided I would buy a monthly to save a few £££. So you can imagine my disappointment, shock, anger etc etc at being issued with a Penalty Fare. He still refused to budge quoting the byelaws and so on, he also called wood street, or said he called Wood street and was told that they had been open all morning. He and his colleagues later claimed they called Wood Street 3 times, this suggests to me that they did not get through the first time when they reported back to me that they said they had. However according to them that makes no difference anyway as there was a machine available which was in working order. Why they chose to call 3 times I don't know, but all I know is there was no one there at the time I was and I was concerned there was something wrong with the machine.

I then explained that though I felt it was unfair if he is insisting on issuing the penalty then ok but I could not pay the Penalty Fare that day as I would then not have enough to pay for my monthly travelcard. I also asked to speak to someone else as I thought he was being unfair.

Basically to cut the long story short I was distressed, I was even wailing (embarassingly I cry when I am deeply frustrated) so events from then on are unclear, however I am pretty sure that the way it was left was that I would not be Penalty Fared that day and would be written to and requested to pay the Penalty Fare later. I then insisted that someone comes with me to buy my monthly as I got the feeling they did not believe me otherwise there is no way they should be fining me for not being able to register my oyster and get my ticket before the journey as there was no one in the ticket office (although saying that I'm not sure wood street would even have the forms) anyway the British Transport Police officer went with me and they explained to us why I had been unable to buy my ticket.

Basically I was waiting to hear from them re the £20 Penalty Fare which I would attempt to appeal and pay if not. Instead this has gone to court. It is seriously upsetting, I don't want this issue to cost me anymore. Even the £20 seemed unfair but I can just about accept that, but court is too much.

Please help, any advice would be appreciated.

(sorry its so long)
 
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AlterEgo

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So what did the BTP officer actually do? You just said he assisted. What did he say? What does he know that would help?

The whole story doesn't make sense to me.
 

KA4C

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Depends on what you are planning to do about this, if you are pleading guilty, then do so by post, submit written mitigation. If you are pleading not guilty, you will have to attend
 

Ferret

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So what did the BTP officer actually do? You just said he assisted. What did he say? What does he know that would help?

The whole story doesn't make sense to me.
I find it a little difficult to follow if I'm honest, but without knowing a lot more it's difficult to be of assistance. I can't make out whether there's wrongdoing or whether the OP is a victim of circumstance. And if we can't make it out on here, a Magistrate in a Court won't be able to either, assuming it goes that far.

 

KA4C

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And if we can't make it out on here, a Magistrate in a Court won't be able to either, assuming it goes that far.
I suspect that the magistrates have a little more training, experience in dealing with such matters than most on here, in addition to hearing the evidence from both sides
 

Darandio

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I suspect that the magistrates have a little more training, experience in dealing with such matters than most on here, in addition to hearing the evidence from both sides
But we do have members with that training and experience, that is why the site is so highly recommended for those seeking similar advice.

The situation here is that there is little evidence for anyone to work on.
 

KA4C

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But we do have members with that training and experience, that is why the site is so highly recommended for those seeking similar advice.

The situation here is that there is little evidence for anyone to work on.
Oh I know that alright, but even magistrates on here would not try judge a case from what is posted on here
 

Ferret

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I suspect that the magistrates have a little more training, experience in dealing with such matters than most on here, in addition to hearing the evidence from both sides
I'm sure they do, but the point I'm making is that if the OP intends to contest the case and represent himself, he'll have to explain himself far better than he has to us on here. Remember, the prosecution evidence will be professionally worded and concise, and easy to follow, and the sole source of evidence for the defence as far as we know is the OP!;)

Anyway, to the OP - I'm sorry if I sound a little blunt - I don't intend any offence. If the regulars on here are to be able to help though, we need to know more about the situation as it stands now, and more of what happened at the time.

Now, the railway byelaws are clear in that you must purchase a ticket to travel before joining the train where those facilities exist. If those facilities did not exist, then the law specifically states no offence is committed. Now, I'm wondering if the BTP officer made this clear at the time?

My final question is have the rail company notified you of which law they intend to prosecute you under? I am assuming it is the Byelaw offence of travelling without a ticket rather than the more serious Regulation or Railways Act pertaining to intent to avoid paying the fare.
 
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DaveNewcastle

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To respond to this matter by starting at the beginning isn't possible, because we lack some crucial information. As Ferret has asked, we don't even know what Offence is being Prosecuted.
We can guess that it will be a S.17 or 18 Railway Byelaw Offence, but perhaps its a S.5 Regulation of Railways Act Offence.
We don't know which Company is Prosecuting. We don't know how much time the Claimants and the Courts have given for a response and for Witnesses to be named and for your Evidence to be presented.
Most importantly, we don't know what the Claimant's Evidence says - which presumably includes a Witness Statement from the OP him/her self.

We also understand that E22osT has received a Summons. Does this not include the explanation that they can Plea by post or in Person in Court and does it not include copies of the Witness Statements which will be used as Evidence?
I don't know which Court invites a plea either way by post without also providing the Charge and the Evidence!

The remark by E22osT that Prosecution Evidence will be released AFTER the Proceedings is surely an error or misunderstanding somewhere. With confusion at that fundamental level of Court procedure, its going to be hard to assist by internet forum!

The request for help and advice isn't very clear either - we need to know something of the E22osT's prior ability and knowledge to respond appropriately - but I think I might make a guess, which might appear a little unkind, though that is not my intention.
From the writing style, and from the fact that the OP has let enough time pass without taking legal advice or indeed making any other effort to pay their liability to whoever the claimant is, I might guess that they have attempted to ignore the matter when it could have been easily discharged by a simple payment, but now that they find themselves out of their depth, they make a plea for help to an unknown internet community.
If that is (even remotely) correct, then perhaps a quick visit to a local High Street Solicitor will help to put things in perspective.

If E22osT would like help on here (and despite the suggestion of KA4C there is perhaps a little more expertise to be found in these parts than most Magistrates will have - I speak with Magistrates who often complain of their lack of training!) then we will need facts such as copies of or at least best recollections of, the Witness Statements which will pe or maybe have been lodged with the Court.
We will also need to know the timescale that is operating. The Offence which is being Prosecuted. Who is Prosecuting, where and when.
And the Evidence.

. . . .the point I'm making is that if the OP intends to contest the case and represent himself, he'll have to explain himself far better than he has to us on here.
Yes.
 

34D

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From the writing style, and from the fact that the OP has let enough time pass without taking legal advice or indeed making any other effort to pay their liability to whoever the claimant is, I might guess that they have attempted to ignore the matter when it could have been easily discharged by a simple payment
I'm curious to understand why you have used the word claimant here rather than prosecutor - from your other posts here I detect some legal knowledge, so I am sure there is a reason for your choice of words.
 

DaveNewcastle

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Not really much of an insight I'm afraid. My response was an attempt on my part not to make any presumptions about the matter presented to us by E22osT. I feel no confidence in making any assumptions about that matter where all that we have is the one rather incomplete post on this forum.

For all we know, this may be a Civil debt in the Mags (and therefore Claimant would be appropriate).

I was tempted not to respond at all to this thread for want of facts.

Perhaps you'll agree that we need the OP to come back with more factual information before this can be developed any further.
 

E22osT

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Ok.. I'm sorry the original post was borne out of frustration and confusion. The incident happened 23-11-2011. I have been waiting for correspondence since then and the prosecutions unit claim that they sent me a letter offering a chance to explain my side and I did not respond. My main concerns throughout all this is not to incur costs because I cannot afford that so I wanted to pay the penalty fare once they had written to me and be done. I never received any letter. The first correspondence I received was the court summons which stated:

I did contravene byelaw no 18 (1) it then went on to say that the court would here the statement of facts enclosed would be read out in court before a decision is made. This statement was that "On 23 Nov 2011 the defendant travelled by train between Wood Street and Liverpool Street. During the JOurney she was requested to produce a ticket. She could not produce a valid ticket for her journey. After being cautioned she admitted that she did not have the money or means to pay her fare. She was informed the matter would be reported" This statement is incorrect, and I felt that pleading guilty would then mean that this showed intent to fare evade and would then result in a larger penalty and maybe even a criminal record.

I wrote back to the court and explained that the statement was incorrect and if the obtained that statement from the British Transport Police Officer who was there that day they would see that the two statements did not correspond. I stated that I was guilty of not having a ticket on the train but I was not guilty of intending to evade I had been unable to purchase my monthly travelcard. There was a form included with the summons and I had to sign one of the options which applied but each one stated that "I accept the evidence" which I could not as it was incorrect so I could not sign and explained in my letter that I was unsure how to respond/plea. I spoke to the court to check if they had received my letter and they told me that they had and that I did not need to attend that day as the letter was sufficient. I had also included bank statements showing regular purchases of weekly travelcard and the monthly travelcard which was purchased that day. A few days after the original hearing which was 26th March 2012 I received another letter which stated that the case was adjourned for trial. I think the mistake I made was accepting the advice that I did not need to attend court that day and naively thinking that the court would dismiss the case or simply order me to pay the £20 penalty fare which I felt should be the maximum penalty for my error.

I have tried to seek legal advice but have mostly been told that there would be a charge which again I cannot afford.

Basically I cannot contest the fact that I did not have a ticket on the train that day, but originally I was confused as I thought they had sent it to court in order to get a criminal conviction and therefore they were looking to prove intent by providing such a statement. The prosecutions officer has since said that this is a civil case, and they are only saying that I did not have a ticket on the train. He also stated that as the case had already gone to court they have to follow the procedure, does this sound correct. I cannot believe this has gone as far as court and would still like to avoid going to court, is this at all possible??

Sorry this is all new to me and I am confused as you can see...:cry:


I have the statements/summons etc but I'm not sure how appropriate it is to include those.... wouldn't want to get into anymore trouble ;)
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I have his number and have contacted the BTP for the statement but they told me it cannot be given as there are court proceeding going on. The statement has been read to me over the phone and he does talk about me trying to buy the monthly pass and being unable to do so. The Railway Prosecutions has said that they tend not to use statement from the BTP as if they do they it has to go to Crown Prosecutions and would then become even more serious. Is this correct. i feel the BTP officers statement along with my proof that I bought a monthly that day is my strongest evidence for mitigation.. ( or however you word it)
 

yorkie

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Have you read of similar cases on this forum? Have you offered to (and are you prepared to) settle out of court?

The excuses just make it harder to read.

Someone was in a similar position just a week or two ago and the solution was posted on this forum: what you need to do in this situation is either stick with a 7 day ticket, or buy a single and immediately purchase a monthly on arrival and the cost of the single will then be deducted from what you need to pay.

The prosecution sounds like a straightforward and strong case, so if you do not settle out of court then I can't really see any prospect of success, especially without legal representation.
 

Indigo2

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Basically I cannot contest the fact that I did not have a ticket on the train that day, but originally I was confused as I thought they had sent it to court in order to get a criminal conviction and therefore they were looking to prove intent by providing such a statement.
No intent has to be proved to be convicted of a breach of Byelaw 18(1) - the act of travelling without a valid ticket is enough. It's unfortunate that you didn't realise that the mention of the byelaw offence meant they were not going to try to prove intent of avoiding the fare, and that any ideas you have of how to prove that you had no intent are irrelevant, as that's not what they're accusing you of.

Similarly to this, being asked to pay a penalty fare equally does not imply you are being accused of intending to avoid payment of the correct fare - it is simply an inflated fare that various train companies are allowed to charge, for the purpose of encouraging people to buy tickets before they board the train.

Basically I cannot contest the fact that I did not have a ticket on the train that day
I think that sums it up more or less. It seems you don't really have a defence and it should be a straightforward conviction (although it won't get you a criminal record, as it's only a byelaw offence). If it's not too late you can possibly still try to settle out of court to mitigate the costs involved, although you will undoubtedly end up paying a lot more than if you'd paid the penalty fare on the day.

Sorry there's no better news.
 

KA4C

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(and despite the suggestion of KA4C there is perhaps a little more expertise to be found in these parts than most Magistrates will have - I speak with Magistrates who often complain of their lack of training!)
Really?, From experience, I can't agree with that statement, most Mags that I know complain that, as lay volunteers, they have far too much training, at least 4 -6 sessions a year, plus continuation training, plus numerous updates and briefs e mailed to them, plus their appraisals and their performance being reviewed after each sitting. And not forgetting that they have a legal adviser and a fat book of guidelines to assist. Sounds like you have been speaking to someone who sits infrequently, given that this type of case appears quite frequently in most courts and Mags are well used to dealing with it
 

E22osT

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I will write to them and see. Is there really nothing that can be said for the fact that I approached the Revenue Protection Officer and asked to buy a monthly. The only reason why I did not have it on the train was because of the issue with my oyster card not being registered. I mean why do they issue tickets on trains and at stations, and I was asking for a monthly... if its about revenue protection why didn't he just give me my ticket and kindly assist me with information about what to do in future! I understand now that you can buy singles and it can be deducted from the monthly ticket and of course I would have taken that option if I knew.

Something has got to change. There is no way that someone who is trying to buy a monthly ticket just a few minutes after getting the train should be issues with the penalty fare.... just doesn't make sense. I mean I know there are fare evaders out there but I don't think anyone jumps on a train to liverpool street in without paying unless there is a valid reason, because we all know how well that station is manned.

Siggggghhhhhh its just ridiculous I was not caught, I am being punished for making an honest mistake! I genuinely thought going to liverpool street would not be a problem and they would simply give me my monthly ticket and I would carry on to work and save I think its only about £7 difference. Can you imagine the frustration, broke times meant I wanted to save some pennies and for that I have to go through all this! its actually heartbreaking!

Gonna have to campaign for the law to change:(:D
 

yorkie

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I will write to them and see.
Good luck! If you'd like to have your letter proof read, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Is there really nothing that can be said for the fact that I approached the Revenue Protection Officer and asked to buy a monthly. The only reason why I did not have it on the train was because of the issue with my oyster card not being registered. I mean why do they issue tickets on trains and at stations, and I was asking for a monthly... if its about revenue protection why didn't he just give me my ticket and kindly assist me with information about what to do in future! I understand now that you can buy singles and it can be deducted from the monthly ticket and of course I would have taken that option if I knew.
Providing you don't go OTT, you could mention these things in your letter, but be careful that it remains concise and doesn't either incriminate yourself or make it look like you are just making excuses. I think that emphasising it was an honest mistake is the best way forward.

Unfortunately an honest mistake can be punishable by a Byelaw 18 prosecution (or a Penalty Fare), and there is no suggestion here that you have intended to avoid the fare. I agree it is unfair, and they should not be using this byelaw, however we can only advise on what the situation is, not what we want it to be.

Looking at previous incidents where people (with no previous 'history') have made mistakes that caused them to be in breach of Byelaw 18, many people who was given advice that they should consider settling out of court, have gone on to tell us that their offer was accepted. None have so far told us that the offer was rejected (though that doesn't mean it hasn't happened!)
Something has got to change. There is no way that someone who is trying to buy a monthly ticket just a few minutes after getting the train should be issues with the penalty fare.... just doesn't make sense. I mean I know there are fare evaders out there but I don't think anyone jumps on a train to liverpool street in without paying unless there is a valid reason, because we all know how well that station is manned.

Siggggghhhhhh its just ridiculous I was not caught, I am being punished for making an honest mistake! I genuinely thought going to liverpool street would not be a problem and they would simply give me my monthly ticket and I would carry on to work and save I think its only about £7 difference. Can you imagine the frustration, broke times meant I wanted to save some pennies and for that I have to go through all this! its actually heartbreaking!
Gonna have to campaign for the law to change:(:D
I'd offer to settle this out of court first (this needs to be done ASAP!) and then you can start your campaign.

I am going to lock this now as I do not think there is anything else to add. If there are any further developments please send me a PM (I have enabled PMs for you) and I can re-open the thread if you wish. :)
 
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