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Hello all, i received a summons today and would greatly appreciate the advice of someone who knows what they are talking about. (Point three is my main concern/hope)

Here is a brief summary:

I have just recieved a magistrates summons, stating that on 10th January 2010 i was questioned between Surbiton and Wimbledon, having contravened railway byelaw 18(1) made under section 219 of the Transport Act, in that i did, in an area not designated as a compulsory ticket area, enter a train for the purpose of travelling on the railway without valid ticket entitling me to do so.

A witness statement from a PCSO is also included in the envelope, including plea entering etc. No information is included as to how i can appeal.

Just to state, fair enough; i was travelling with a Child Travelcard and i am 19 but at the time i literally had about £10 to my name. I would not do it out of choice but my journey was essential.

So my queries/problems:

 

1. I have now moved up north and am absolutely unable to attend court on the 24th August. Can i tell them that i will not be able to attend, without just copping out and paying them the fine/costs? Perhaps to appeal?

 

2. In the witness statement provided by the female PCSO (she was writing in a notepad at the time of offence) It states:

"At approximately 19.44 hours i cautioned him"

"I explained he was not under arrest and was free to leave at any time"

 

But im pretty much 100% sure that she did NOT state that i was "free to leave at any time", otherwise i obviously would have done so thereby avoiding this situation. Does it hold any bearing if she did not state this? Would i even be able to prove it?

 

3. The offence took place on 10th January 2010, but i have only received the summons today (12th August 2010). Now, it has been forwarded from my previous address, so we can assume perhaps 2 weeks delay at most from when it was supposed to be recieved. This still leaves a gap of more than six months between the offence and the issue of the summons. Is it not correct that there is a legal time limit which must be respected, between the time of the offence and the issue of the summons?

 

Any help would be greatly appreciated as it was a real shock to find a summons on my doorstep when i am trying to start a new life for myself!

Thanks in advance for any help

Dom

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In reverse order, the 6 months time limit applies to the time between the offence and the 'laying of information' at Court.

 

What you do not tell us is whether the prosecuting authority is the train company or the Police. Not that it matters a great deal.

 

Byelaw 18 is a strict liability offence. You may be lucky that you are not charged with the more serious offence of avoiding a rail fare, Section 5,3,a Regulation of Railways Act, 1889, which is 'recordable'. I think you should plead guilty by post and send in a statement of earnings/expenditure. Expect a fine somewhere between £75.00 & £175.00, the maximum (I think) is £1,000.00. Also expect to be ordered to pay costs, which will be shown on the papers that you have, and compensation of the avoided fare. You will have to pay the statutory 'victim surcharge' of £15.00.

 

Pay nothing until you get a notice of penalty from the Court, but pay it! Non payment of Court fines is a whole different business, warrants, arrests, seizure.......... not something you want to experience.

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The summons was issued by Southwest trains. Please can someone address my issues 2 and 3, as i feel that these may provide small hope of getting around it. If not then obviously i will pay any costs as soon as possible, as i have seen what happens when you dont, and i dont want the bailiffs knocking at my old folks' door.

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The most important point Wriggler raises is the 6 month time limit.

Look on the summons to see when it was signed by the magistrate, if it is after the 10th July then the matter cannot proceed & is 'out of time'. Write to the court stating this.

If the summons is 'in time' simply return the plea form (I suggest Guilty) to the court also ensure you fill in form MC100 so the bench know your financial circumstances.

Point 2 is your word against the PCSOs.

Of course this is purely my opinion.

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If the (you say) PCSO (I think RPI or REO, but it doesn't matter which) didn't properly caution you, it is possible that a Court would take a view that questions asked about intent to avoid fares was inadmissable, but the basic facts are not derived from the interview in this case.

 

The basic facts are your name and personal details, that you were seen in circumstances that prove that you have travelled, that you were asked for a ticket and produced a child rate one despite being an old chap of 19.

 

My opinion is that you should stop looking to 'get round it', and look to minimise the impact by pleading guilty and submitting the form MC100 to the Court.

 

Early guilty pleas cause the Court to reduce fines by about a third.

 

Low pay is taken into account against the 'totality' of the penalties.

 

I stand by the advice that I give in other threads. When a person gets a summons for a matter to be heard in a criminal Court, they should get advice from a solicitor who deals with criminal defence.

 

There are questions that would be asked that would simply not be proper to ask and answer in a very public forum, although a solicitor's eye would look through the statement, the papers submitted with it, and spot the salient points fairly quickly.

 

Fines tend to go up if there are aggravating features, which in matters like this tend to be where the passenger was rude, or had to be knocked to the ground by a passing policeman to stop him assualting the inspector, or if there are previous convictions for similar matters, fines tend to go down if there are good mitigating features, such as it being clear that the offence was out of 'need' rather than 'greed'.

 

In Court, solicitors are less likley to become tongue tied than a person defending himself.

 

All that said though, the cost of a solicitor is probably greater than any potential saving in a case like this.

 

A conviction for a Byelaw offence is hardly 'life changing'. If the summons is signed before 10th July, I think you should 'swallow', plead guilty.

 

Just my opinion.

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Excellent advice by Wriggler

 

At 19 years of age you know that you are old enough to vote and therefore not young enough to claim a child discount. None of the Courts buy that hoary old defence 'I pressed the wrong button' any more, because everyone knows if you bought the ticket from a self-service machine you have to make two definite press-button choices to confirm that you are entitled to the discount.

 

if you bought it from a booking office it is clear that you (or someone on your behalf) told the clerk that you needed a child rate ticket because the auto default on the ticket machines is 'adult single' and it is only changed by request.

 

If you were guilty of the offence it is always best to put your hands up, apologise and offer some mitigation such as 'short of money', which will likely lead to a very much reduced penalty.

Edited by Old-CodJA

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I can't really add anything here, although that the Byelaw offence is getting off lightly, as it could quite easily have been a 5.3(a) instead (in laymans terms, the latter will be more of a punishment as intent to avoid payment was proved). Not sure why you weren't charged with that, as it's pretty clear cut whether you admit intent or not that at 19 you should have bought an adult ticket. Finally, given that you assumed the staff concerned was a PCSO, it was more than likely a Rail Community Officer that reported you (RCO), these are SWT staff accredited to the British Transport Police (BTP), although the power to report such offences comes solely as a Railway official, rather than an Accredited person. PCSOs don't report under railway byelaws, not because they aren't allowed in theory, but because all of their cases would have to go through the CPS, and I would imagine the CPS would get rather cross ;). Not to mention PCSOs rarely travel on trains, especially not between Surbiton and Wimbledon!

 

Finally finally this time, you could always call SWT and offer to cover their costs, if this is a viable option money wise, obviously they are not obliged to settle with you out of court, but it could same the aggravation of a court fine etc etc.

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you've been very lucky to have only being charged with a byelaw!


Views expressed in this forum by me are my own personal opinion and you take it on face value! I make any comments to the best of my knowledge but you take my advice at your own risk.

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Interesting article in the Times today, criticising the Crown Prosecution Service for using lesser charges that appropriate. Suggestion is than the CPS find it gives a higher conviction rate. The same must be true of Railways. The Byelaws are 'strict liability', easier to prove than the Regulation Of Railways Act offences that have the element of 'intent'.

 

Is the 'railway' being lazy with the 'charge'?

 

For the OP, it may be good news, the penalties are less, but it cannot be good practice to use the 'lower' offence, it also reduces the scope for defence. In this case, apart from whether the paperwork is straight, I cannot see a defence, but there must be cases where using the lesser offence is 'not fair' to the defendant.

Edited by Wriggler7
to correct silly spelling mistakes. Sunday morning coming down, as Cristopherson might say.

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There's a bit of a balancing act all round here

 

For matters of unpaid fares, I have always been a firm believer in using S5.RRA (1889) wherever possible, though sometimes Byelaw 18.1 is the only appropriate charge.

 

Yes, I too saw that CPS were criticised for laying lesser charges, but in fact where Courts are very heavily overloaded with work, it may be the best practical way of getting long lists through by avoiding many trials and as pressure increases to close many more Courts, I can only see that situation getting worse.

 

I don't say it's right, but can understand the reasoning.

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