I've spoken to a friend who urges me to at least speak to a solicitor (specialising in fare evasion) and have a initial consultation. I don't think it'll help though.
My friend also helped me to alter my letter, more details have been added and its now 2 pages long
- which I think is okay given that I have medical conditions to discuss.
I've successfully acquired medical evidence from my GP which will help me out.
My friend also advised me to not accept the offence, and keep it vague as the letter is under caution and could be used against me in court.
Here is a final draft that I'm sending off. Thoughts? Better than my first draft?
I am writing in response to your letter dated the 16th of January 2020 where you requested a response within ten working days in regards to case number xxxxxx. I would firstly like to sincerely apologise for the incident that occurred on the 15th of January 2020, where I was made aware to be potentially committing an offence but I’d like to assure you that I did not have any intention to evade my fare.
I have pre-existing medical conditions which are relevant to the incident. I wouldn’t have at any point attempted to exit the bus at my destination without attempting to pay if I was aware that I had not already. I did offer to pay once I was made aware by the officer but was told this was not possible. Due to feeling very intimidated at the time I did not want to press the matter.
I suffer from chronic fatigue, severe depression, social anxiety and generalised anxiety. Last year, I had to quit my job as a result of my poor health and am currently unemployed in receipt of Universal Credit. My condition affects me to the point where I have difficulty getting out of bed, moreso completing basic tasks. I am in a constant state of physical and mental exhaustion. As a result I have poor concentration and memory problems- this affects me in every part of my life. I have walked into traffic many times because I was unable to concentrate on what I was doing.
In particular, going outside is an extreme struggle for me; I am constantly fatigued, disorientated and frequently in a state of panic (anxiety attacks). Despite this I am trying to venture outside more to aid my recovery and eventually rejoin the workforce. My social anxiety causes me to feel panicked and disoriented when I board buses, as I feel like people are staring at me.
At the time of the incident I was moving home which was extremely stressful and exacerbated my mental and physical health. I had just a few days to move and I pushed past my limits with completing this quickly. I had to transport my belongings one box at a time via bus. I immensely struggled with this as I was fatigued, sleep-deprived, stressed and felt anxious about people looking at me. I boarded carrying a heavy box with both arms and I thought I had successfully tapped in, without realising that I hadn’t. I apologise for this mistake, but I must stress that it was not intentional. In hindsight, I wish I had paid more attention to my surroundings.
The incident itself and prospect of conviction has had a disastrous effect on my mental health. A criminal record would hinder any future prospects when my health improves and I want to start looking for work. It would prevent me from visiting or working in the U.S- which is a dream of mine, despite my current circumstances. Any ambitions of recovering my health would be shattered if I had to go through court proceedings, and even more so if I were convicted. I am doubtful that I’d mentally recover.
As can be seen from I have attached my Oyster and contactless card history as part of my evidence that I had paid for buses just the day before, and have paid for travel since.
To prevent this mistake ever happening again I now purchase a weekly bus pass and always prepare my card in hand and board at the front of the bus, despite my anxiety. I am also applying for a Freedom Pass.
I have no previous convictions and am an honest person. I am aware that this is the second occurrence of a similar nature within six months, and I am incredibly sorry for this. I will make sure this never happens again with the steps mentioned above. My GP has provided a supporting statement to confirm my current medical conditions. I can also ask my housing officer to confirm the dates of my move if you require further supporting evidence.
I plead for the chance to pay immediately for my unpaid journey costs and also reimburse TFL for any necessary administrative costs. I am sorry for any and all inconveniences caused by this matter. I have not at any point wanted to be someone who is contributing to TFL’s growing issue with fare evasion. I have great respect for all the staff that work on the network and aware it’s not any easy job.
I have included evidence of the following: Fit notes, NHS Sleep study appointment, NHS Talking Therapy assessment summary, NHS iapt appointments, NHS Spine Advisory Group session appointment, Universal Credit health assessment appointment, and a supporting statement from my GP.
I have also included my travel history on both my oyster and contactless debit card.
I look forward to your response and hope this matter can be resolved amicably by an Out Of Court Settlement without the need to go through the courts.
I please ask that all future correspondence is sent to be aware of my new address noted at the top of this letter.
I am thankful for being given the opportunity to explain my circumstances.