Help – I’ve been caught using my husband’s Travelcard by FCC Revenue Inspectors and I’m in a complete mess!
I had been with my husband visiting his sick mother when our childcare arrangements fell through at short notice. I had to get the next train back home from Kent to Croydon as my husband was staying at his mother’s and needed the car. In the rush to the station I asked my husband for some cash for the fare – I didn’t have any money in my own purse. He handed me his plastic ticket ‘pouch’ which contained his annual Travelcard, a credit card and some cash. I had fully intended buying a ticket to cover the journey home but the ticket office at the (overground) station wasn’t open and I could see that another customer was having problems using the ticket machine.
When I got off the train at London Bridge an East Croydon train was on a nearby platform. It was about to leave so I jumped onto it. I should have stopped to buy a ticket but again my only thought at that moment was to get back home as quickly as possible to pick up my children.
When the inspectors asked me for my ticket I panicked – I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t have the correct ticket and showed my husband’s Travelcard. When asked for a photocard to back it up I panicked again and said I didn’t have it on me but when challenged told the truth and offered to pay the maximum penalty fare. I wish I had been honest with them at the first opportunity and admitted I didn’t have a ticket but as I said, I panicked. They then questioned me under caution.
Next I received a letter from FCC asking for my comments on the allegations of
travelling without a valid ticket
receiving a ticket with intent
both breaches of national railway bye-laws. The letter said they would always push for the maxim penalty and that this could be criminal record, fine of up to £1000, prison sentence, suspended sentence, community service, seizure of any computer equipment (if involved) (??), compensation and costs. I am so scared.
I replied to FCC Prosecutions to explain what had happened. I stressed how remorseful I was and
that what I did I did in the heat of the moment, at a stressful time for both me and my husband, when my only thoughts were getting home to collect my young sons;
that the whole incident has left me distraught, ashamed and even more stressed;
that I guaranteed it will never happen again;
that they would receive my full co-operation;
that I’ve never been in any trouble before and certainly never fare-dodged;
that I’m a mum of two young kids trying to get back into teaching after starting a family and that a conviction would destroy any hope of me getting a teaching job.
I also offered to immediately pay the maximum penalty fare due and any reasonable amount deemed appropriate to cover the administrative costs incurred by FCC as a result of this incident.
I also explained that I was so stressed and panicked when confronted on the train and questioned under caution that I couldn’t clearly remember everything I said to the Inspectors and what I signed. I just wanted to get away from them and the humiliating situation I found myself in. With regard to the ‘receiving a ticket with intent’ allegation I think I told the Inspectors that my husband knew I had his ticket. He did know this in as much as he had handed me his ticket pouch which, of course, contained his Travelcard. I wrongly assumed that he wouldn’t mind me using it.
I am not a bad, dishonest person. I made a mistake and I feel that my life in about to be ruined. Both me and my husband have been in a living hell since the incident happened 2 weeks ago. We haven’t been able to sleep waiting for FCC to contact us and it has actually been making us ill.
Well, I’ve received a letter today from FCC. They acknowledge my remorse but they say that the prosecution will proceed and that next correspondence I’ll receive will be a court summons and that upon receipt I should either seek legal advice or write directly to the court.
Sorry for the long post but this is the biggest crisis I’ve ever faced in my life and I’m so scared. Can anyone give me any advice on what they would do in my position please?
Is it still worth persisting asking FCC to settle out of court?
If I get the summons I intend pleading guilty by post – I could not deal with going to court and I admit that didn’t have a valid ticket, had my husband’s Travelcard on me and used it. (Can anyone explain how pleading by post works?)
What can be put forward as evidence as well as my husband’s ticket and the statement I signed? Records of any subsequent phone conversations with the FCC? My letter of explanation? I’m worried that contradicting what the statement I signed is going to really stitch me up.
Is a guilty plea likely to be accepted for the ‘receive with intent’ charge if I told the FCC in my letter that my husband gave me his ticket pouch but didn’t tell me to use the ticket?
If I plead guilty to the charge of ‘receiving a ticket with intent’ what will that mean for my husband? Could he be charged with an offence? That could have serious consequences for his job.
How quickly is this likely to be dealt with by a court?
If I face the two charges does that mean I could get two lots of fines?
From what I've seen of this site there are some really decent, helpful people out there. I'd be grateful for any steer you can give me and/or anything you can say that will in some way ease the stress I'm feeling at the moment.