Looking for some advice / guidance please.
Yesterday I received a letter from SWT Prosecution Department to attend an interview at Richmond Station next month
under caution in accordance to the police and criminal evidence act 1984 in relation to use of my weekly rail ticket back in June.
I have now been travelling from Shepperton to Wimbledon every week day.
I had always paid the correct ticket.
Sometimes daily ticket sometimes weekly or monthly depending on cash flow.
3 years ago my partner gave birth to twins,
I stumbled on the fact that Hampton which is only 2 stops and 7 mins from Shepperton
on average was around £20 per week cheaper than travelling from Shepperton.
£80 per month is a hell of a difference when you have two extra mouths to feed!!
Shepperton did not and does still not have barriers.
when money was particularly tight I decided to purchase a weekly ticket from Hampton to Wimbledon.
As money was getting tighter and tighter this became more frequent and I was never challenged on the train or at Shepperton.
There was a couple of times when the revenue team turned up en mase at Shepperton
and I would either just buy a single from Shepperton to Hampton or on some occasions
just show them my weekly and they don’t even read the properly and just let me through.
I knew this was wrong but it just became the normal thing to do , buy a weekly ticket every week.
On the day in question,
I was traveling from Shepperton to Wimbledon there are no ticket barriers at Shepperton
I boarded the train as normal.
Just as the train departed the station a revenue protection office came through the carriage asking to see tickets.
I opened my railcard which she looked at quickly then moved on slightly.
She then back tracked and asked to look again more closely.
At this point she noticed that the ticket was for travel between Wimbledon and Hampton.
She asked what station I joined the train.
As we had only just departed Shepperton ( this is the start of the line) I could hardly say anything other than Shepperton.
She asked why did I not have ticket for travel between Shepperton and Hampton.
I said I normally start my journey at Hampton and just forgot to pay for the difference.
She was just about to let me pay for the difference when her colleague came through asked what was going on.
Once explained he took over and started asking for ID and personal details,
The lady officer said to him are you sure you want to do this and he just carried on and started to call someone to get ID verification.
Once verification had been established he said I was now under caution and would now write down in his black book questions and my responses.
He asked me to clarify thing like where did I get on today, where I was going.
Did I have a ticket for the correct journey etc etc.
The final question he asked and before he asked this he reminded me that I was under caution was
“how long have you been traveling on this journey with this ticket type”.
As for some reason I still had all my tickets up to November last year in my ticket wallet which he was holding I said “about a year”.
He then re read all the questions and answers and made me sign his book,
gave me a card with his badge number ,
advised that I may be contacted by the revenue team in the future and let me carry on with my journey.
Since that day I have now stopped buying tickets from Hampton and have purchased weekly and monthly tickets from Shepperton.
I deeply regret my actions,
I have never been in any trouble in the past.
The last 3 months have been hell for my family and myself waiting to see if the SWT were going to pursue this matter.
Now the letter has arrived I need some advice on how I should proceed with this interview.
Do I need to attend?
Do you think SWT have a history of my previous tickets?
Do I need a Solicitor ?
Can I offer to pay back the difference and or fine and costs at the interview or am I destined to end up in court?
As I have mention I have a young family and the thought of ending up in court and possibly prison is scary.