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  1. Hi, I can't sleep for worrying about this even though I'm exhausted! I was interviewed by a revenue protection officer on board a train in London in the middle of September, who suspected me of fare dodging. He interviewed me under caution, placed me under arrest and said that my case was being referred to the prosecutions department of the train company for consideration. I still haven't heard back from them and am worried they have sent me a letter which has got lost in the post. Is it normal to wait so long? The RPI had said it would take about 6 weeks for the train operating company (TOC) to contact me. I was travelling from south east London to East Croydon via London Bridge. I had a season ticket from my local station to London Bridge but no ticket for the onward journey to Croydon, which I had planned to buy at London Bridge. As it turned out, I was in a rush, the Croydon train turned up within two minutes of me disembarking from the inbound train, and I jumped on it thinking - mistakenly - that I could pay the difference on board or at the other end. Honestly! I was not until recently a regular train user as I had private transport to commute to and from work and have in the past paid on board trains for tickets, so genuinely did not realise I was committing an offence at the time, and it was never my intention to dodge a fare. I'm a reasonably well-paid professional person with no criminal record, so why would I want to jeopardise my good reputation and future career prospects over a fare of a few pounds? When the guard came round I said I needed to pay him a fare and asked if I could pay him the difference on my existing season ticket but he said he was issuing me with a penalty fare. I thought this was unfair and refused to pay it. It gets worse. I then told him why I thought this was unfair and that I had offered to pay him the regular fare. I felt I was being unjustly criminalised. Then I refused to give him my name and address when asked because I felt frightened of him. (He was a big, scary guy, which I accept is no excuse or defence, but I suffer from an anxiety disorder, was under a great deal of stress and behaved irrationally.) When told I faced prosecution and was being arrested, I said I would pay the penalty fare - twice - but the RPI said he could not take a payment from me, and did not say why. I also gave him my name and address. On the train the guard suggested I had given the wrong address because he rang a help desk, which told him I was not registered at the address given. But I am! I realise now that my lack of co-operation was a big mistake and I have accepted that I will be prosecuted. I wrote the TOC a letter straight away which I sent by special delivery, and emailed them, providing documentary evidence and a copy of my season ticket and Oyster card, as requested by them. But, three months on, I want to know if I should contact the TOC to check they have not already written to me? I do not want to find out further down the line that I was convicted in court in my absence because I did not receive their correspondence. More about the incident: When the guard arrested me on the platform at Croydon, I panicked and rang the police, telling them I was being detained by an unauthorised person. A police officer attended and supervised my interview with the guard at my request. Before the police turned up a fellow passenger intervened on my behalf, saying to the guard that he was shouting at me, and bullying and intimidating me, that he was a big guy and I was a woman, and the way he was treating me was inappropriate. The two men ended up arguing vigorously. The fellow passenger finally left, but refused to give me his contact details when i asked if he would be a witness. I gave him mine but he never contacted me. In my letter to the TOC I asked them to look at the CCTV on the platform, which would confirm my story about the passenger's intervention on my behalf. I also asked that the footage be made available in the event of prosecution which would show the two men clearly arguing. I don't want a criminal record but accept I may end up with one, which I believe stands for 5 years before I no longer have to declare it to employers. Could someone confirm this please? This would affect my employment and may even result in job loss. I am also an Australian and British citizen and fear it may adversely affect my right to re-enter Australia. As well as outlining all of the above, I said in my letter that I regretted the way in which the situation had escalated, that it was a genuine mistake that would never be repeated and that I would like to pay the penalty fare plus additional administrative costs. I also explained that in the past four months I had moved house, that the vehicle that I used to get to work was stolen, had had a brain aneurysm diagnosed and was presently being investigated for lung cancer. All of which possibly contributed to my unhelpful reaction to the guard. I supplied documentary evidence to back up all of this and gave the TOC permission to contact any of the relevant authorities to check the documents' authenticity, should they wish to do so. I also enclosed a letter from the council confirming my address (given to the guard) and a letter from a psychologist confirming that I had received cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety. I had a lawyer look over my letter before I sent it to the TOC. He recommended a barrister, should the matter proceed, and I will take his advice and hire the barrister if I receive a summons. The question is, should I contact the TOC to ask why I have not heard from them? The solicitor I saw told me that the TOC must bring a prosecution within 6 months of the offence, otherwise they are not allowed to pursue the matter further. I realise NOW that I was in the wrong on the train - I just didn't realise it at the time, which I realise (now) is no defence. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading this far.
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