Patricia Pearl - Small Claims Procedure - A Practical Guide


An excellent guide for the layperson in how to use the County Court - a must if you are intending to start a claim.

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  1. #1
    Basic Account Holder sarah7000 Novitiate

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    Default South West Trains - Possible Criminal Record?

    I was wondering if anyone can help.

    A few months ago I was approached by authority working on behalf of Southwest Trains. They cautioned me and i had to give a statement. I had a child weeks travelcard which i used at Waterloo, the barrier didnt let me through because it was a child ticket so i used my oyster card to get through - the officer must have been watching) I said that i could not afford the full fair hence the child ticket. He took my statement for each of the 5or 6 days of travel of which it was used and took the tickets in quesiton, i guess for evidence.

    As he questioned me I was quite upset and wasnt thinking too clearly. Not far a reflection on how I had felt the entire month due to physical illness and bouts of depression. So I cant remember much detail of my statement further than I have just given.

    I have now recieved a letter from SWT stating that 'the evidence given was being considered as to whether legal proceedings are appropriate If you consider that tehere are further mitigating factors taht may influence any decision that may be made about this matter you are invited to respond, in writing only, within 14days of the letter'.

    To be honest I wasnt thinking clearly when I bought the ticket, I dont know if retracting the original statement would help avoid prosecution? My depressed state left me not caring much for life itself really, I was in debt and had been at my new job for about 6 months at this point. In fact I was hoping to get a train fare loan from work but i had to pass probation (6months) to get it.

    Anyway I have some old weekly adult tickets that i used, and I know have an annual train ticket on loan from work. I will also see my doctor if i need the evidence.

    I am a 29yr old female, I finished uni in 2007, 2 years of which include deferring a year and repeating a year due to depressiona and ill health. This is my second and most promising permanent job, of which i had been unemployed for months so its very important to me and with a criminal record i feel it will ruin it all for me as I may need to travel abroad for work soon too.

    I'm very worried and would really appreciate any help or advice you can give. I have no idea what to do. I already feel my life slipping out of my hands again, I will definitley see the doctor firstly but I'm very worried as I still live at home with my parents which is also a rocky situation.

    Many thanks


  2. #2
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    Default Re: South West Trains - Possible Criminal Record?

    Hello there and welcome to CAGicon. I expect the forum regulars will be here over the course of today, as and when their day jobs permit.

    My best, HB

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  3. #3
    RPI RPI is offline
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    Default Re: South West Trains - Possible Criminal Record?

    I'm afraid that using a child season ticket at the age of 29 will not be taken lightly by either SWT or the courts, it's this kind of activity that partly contributes to fare rises. I think you need to face up to the fact that you were in the wrong and offer to settle out of court with SWT if they agree to do so, which they don't have to. As for retracting the facts of the original interview, i very much doubt that you could do this without going to court adn even then, there is enough evidence of the offence simply by the fact that you were using the child rate ticket at the age of 29! Not having enough money is not an excuse! If you don't have enough money for Tesco finest steak do you take it anyway and just pay the price of Tesco value steak? I doubt it! It sounds harsh but stop hiding behind excuses and face up to it, all I can say is to either settle out of court OR attend court and use your circumstances as mitigation to get any sentence reduced.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: South West Trains - Possible Criminal Record?

    Yes, RPI is spot-on.

    This is a serious matter. Purchasing a Child-Rate season ticket and using it over a number of days shows clear, pre-meditated intent to avoid payment of the correct fares due.

    Attempting to re-tract your original statement is not going to alter the evidence.

    Your best chance is to write a very apologetic letter to the TOC, but your declared financial position does not seem as if it is going to help you much in this case. You may write and ask the company to consider allowing you to settle this out of Court by making payment of all the unpaid fares and the reasonable costs incurred by the company in dealing with this, but if they were to agree this would have to be paid in full and immediately. The TOCs are unable to take payment in small increments in these cases.

    In honesty, I very much doubt that they will agree to settle out of Court, but you never know. You may get lucky.

    I have some sympathy with your plight, times are hard for a very great many people, but setting out to avoid paying your proper fares in this way cannot ever be condoned. There is no escaping the fact that it is a criminal act.

    I know it is not what you want to hear, but your best course of action, if the TOC reject an offer of settlement, is to plead guilty as soon as you receive a summons, attend Court and say 'sorry' in person and undertake never to repeat the offence. Make sure that you take with you evidence of your debts and your income and outgoings. You will need to complete a 'Statement of means' (Form MC100).

    The charge is likely to be 'intent to avoid a fare contrary to Section 5.3.a of The Regulation of Railways Act (1889)'. If this is a first offence you will be likely to face a fine (on Level 3 of the standard scale) and this can be up to a maximum of 1000, but this will not be applied in full in a first offence and credit will be given for an early guilty plea. In practice, the Magistrates will normally start with a fine equal to the estimated average national weekly wage (400) and will reduce that by giving credit for the early guilty plea. They will probably order you to pay the costs of the prosecution (usually between 100 - 200) and may reduce that because of your means. They will also usually order payment of the fares that have been avoided in compensation to the rail company and are required to order a 15.00 victim surcharge imposed on all persons who are fined by the Court.

    In these situations it is best to face up to your responsibilities, attend Court and say sorry in person. This will attract the maximum credit that the Magistrates can give.

    It is a hard lesson, but it is not life threatening, try not to worry about it and learn from the experience. Sorry if you think it sounds like preaching, but I really do hope that you can move on from this positively.

    If you are ordered to pay fines etc., you will be given time to pay by instalments, which will be set at an affordable level based on your earnings etc.


  5. #5
    Basic Account Holder sarah7000 Novitiate

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    Default Re: South West Trains - Possible Criminal Record?

    Thank you all for your responses, I really appreciate your honest opinions and advice.

    Although this may not be life threatening I had no idea of how this would impact my future, should I get a criminal record. I will probably have to go abroad for work and I may end up losing my job should I not be able to do this. I also planned to some day work with children. I do understand the severity of the situation I've put myself in and will definitely apologise for my stupid actions I just dont know what I'll do with my life if I lose my job AND cant work with children.

    In terms of evidence, I do have old tickets and had purchesed an annual ticket which I was able to acquire after my probation period at work through the loan scheme. I can also have my doctor write a letter of evidence to supposrt my medical conditions. Do you think this will suffice, along with your previous suggestions?

    Thanks again


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    Default Re: South West Trains - Possible Criminal Record?

    To be perfectly honest, old tickets do not count for much in the scheme of things because the Court is only concerned with the offence.

    Nonetheless, if you photo-copy these and send a copy with your letter to the rail company, explain that in the past you had always purchased valid, full fare ticket and show the evidence of your newly acquired annual season ticket through successfully completing your probation period too it may help.

    Explain that your foolish action was as a result of a desperate need to get to and from work during a period of short-term financial stress and that you are genuinely remorseful. Yes, a letter from your GP may help too.

    It is likely that they will still proceed to issue a summons, but you lose nothing by trying to get them to settle out of court.

    Let us know how you get on.


  7. #7
    Basic Account Holder sarah7000 Novitiate

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    Default Re: South West Trains - Possible Criminal Record?

    Ok thank you. I'll do that.

    Does this normally end in a criminal record?


  8. #8
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    Default Re: South West Trains - Possible Criminal Record?

    If convicted by a Court, yes. The scenario described by your original post will lead to a charge of 'intent to avoid a fare'

    That said, this is an offence at the lower end of the scale of offending and will not normally have a truly detrimental effect on your future.


  9. #9
    Basic Account Holder sarah7000 Novitiate

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    Default Re: South West Trains - Possible Criminal Record?

    Really grateful for your responses Old Codja

    Just to clarify, when you say not truly detrimental do you mean it wont show up on a CRB check? I would be able to travel abroad for work?

    Also I think I read on this forum that there is a useful templateicon for writing such letters?


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    Default Re: South West Trains - Possible Criminal Record?

    Quote Originally Posted by sarah7000 View Post
    Really grateful for your responses Old Codja

    Just to clarify, when you say not truly detrimental do you mean it wont show up on a CRB check? I would be able to travel abroad for work?
    If convicted of a the offence of intending to avoid a fare contrary to S.5 of The Regulation of Railways Act this frequently only shows up on an enhanced check of CRB.

    If it happens you would be wise to declare it to an employer, but in the wider measure of offending, it is not a very serious offence of dishonesty. I very much doubt that it would prevent you from travelling, it is only those whose employment calls for a very high level of integrity (Police, Lawyer etc.) that will normally have a problem if convicted of this offence.

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    Site Team honeybee13 Authoritative honeybee13 Authoritative honeybee13 Authoritative honeybee13 Authoritative honeybee13 Authoritative honeybee13 Authoritative honeybee13 Authoritative honeybee13 Authoritative honeybee13 Authoritative honeybee13 Authoritative honeybee13 Authoritative honeybee13's Avatar

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    Default Re: South West Trains - Possible Criminal Record?

    Also I think I read on this forum that there is a useful templateicon for writing such letters?

    Hello again.

    I don't think there is a templateicon here, because everyone's case is different.

    Hopefully the guys will give you an idea of what you need to mention, but it might look better if the letter is in your own words and sounds sincere, rather than being copied and pasted. Amongst other things, I understand you certainly need to express remorse and undertake never to do anything similar again. And you can put in any mitigating factors which led to this happening.

    I hope you'll have more input later from the guys in the know.

    HB

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  12. #12
    Basic Account Holder sarah7000 Novitiate

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    Default

    Thanks for the responses.

    The reason I asked about the effect of the conviction on travelling is because I read on this forum that it would have a detrimental outcome for those who travel abroad often esp to the US? That would be something that would affect me so I was worried.

    Also would it affect someone who wanted to adopt or work with children?

    Thanks, HB I agree I don't really need a templateicon as I've just written everything as honestly as I can.

    Thank you


  13. #13
    Basic Account Holder colony Novitiate

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    Default Re: South West Trains - Possible Criminal Record?

    Hi could you please update us on your case. What happened??


  14. #14
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    Default Re: South West Trains - Possible Criminal Record?

    Hello colony. You could start your own thread and tell us the story if you need advice.

    My best, HB

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    Default Re: South West Trains - Possible Criminal Record?

    Oh yes, is it that obvious?! It's a pretty similar story so I didn't bother to start a new threadicon. Was just interested to see outcomes. With that in mind I will start a new thread at some point, but I'm currently waiting for SWT's response to my grovelling letter of apology, so will need advice if they still want to proceed to court! Thank you all for support though!


  16. #16
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    Default Re: South West Trains - Possible Criminal Record?

    Quote Originally Posted by Old-CodJA View Post
    If convicted of a the offence of intending to avoid a fare contrary to S.5 of The Regulation of Railways Act this frequently only shows up on an enhanced check of CRB.
    </p>
    Hi Old-CodJA,Could I just ask you to confirm this as I thought other threads had stated that only the bylaw breaches would show on an enhanced check and that a conviction under the RRA would always show on a standard crb check?I may be getting confused though!! ThanksRobert


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    Default Re: South West Trains - Possible Criminal Record?

    Quote Originally Posted by Welsh-bob View Post
    </p>
    Hi Old-CodJA,Could I just ask you to confirm this as I thought other threads had stated that only the bylaw breaches would show on an enhanced check and that a conviction under the RRA would always show on a standard crb check?I may be getting confused though!! ThanksRobert
    Whilst a conviction for 'fare evasion contrary to S.5.3.a of RoRA', if loaded to PNC should always show up, it is a fact of life that it frequently doesn't.

    Whether that has something to do with the input process or not I have no idea I'm afraid. The fact is that it seems the process is not nationally consistent yet, although it ought to be.

    A conviction for the strict liability offence of a breach of Byelaw is not recordable and only a 'record of conviction' exists with the Court. This may show up on a very detailed check.


  18. #18
    Basic Account Holder sarah7000 Novitiate

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    Default Re: South West Trains - Possible Criminal Record?

    Hi All,

    Thanks so much for your help.

    As I'd mentioned I sent my letter stating everything that resulted in my purchase of the child ticket. Their response was that they didnt see that it necessarily relevant to explain my health and financial situation. it was a very stern letter as expected however they said they saw that I may have learnt my lesson.

    I had enclosed a letter from my GP explaining how my health had been and the help I was trying to receive to get better. I also enclosed the annual ticket i'd bought after the probation period at work to prove that I didnt plan on doing it ever again. I then had to pay the fine of 300 incl. adminicon fees etc.

    A severe relief and thanks again for all your advice



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