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Fare evasion / Someone else has used my season ticket


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Hello all,

I very much hope I can receive some advice and I thank you in advance for any suggestions you may have. I have read other threads on the topic and I find myself in a similar situation, and I am very worried and scared.

Last Saturday my housemate used my monthly ticket (South West Trains), she was caught and the ticket was confiscated. She told the inspector that she had used it by mistake and I (the ticket owner) did not know about it.

She gave her details and I think she was questioned under caution – she was told that anything she would say could be used against her, or something similar. Sorry for not being precise, I am reporting here was she said to me.

At the ticket office Iater they confirmed to me that the issue is being investigated and in the meantime I cannot get my ticket back or renew it, so I have to buy weekly at the moment.

I am very worried for my housemate and myself. I believe she is now expecting a letter stating her offences, and I wonder if there are any steps she can take before she receives the letter. I don’t know how long that may take. Also, considering that she stated she took the ticket by mistake, is there a chance she could get an out-court settlement and sort it with only paying a fine?

More specifically, what are the possible consequences for me, the ticket owner? My fear is that I may be prosecuted for helping fare evasion. I was abroad when this happened, so that may help to prove that I did not know about it.

Do you think I will also receive a letter stating that I have committed an offence? Do you think I should wait for anything to arrive in the post or should I contact the Prosecution office as soon as possible to try and explain that it was an accident and I was unaware? I am afraid that the letter she will receive may include the charge of “receiving the ticket with intent” as others have mentioned in other threads.

I have a spotless record, I have been paying my monthly ticket for years and have never been fined or had any trouble. Do you think that their “investigation” means that they can check my records and decide not to forward any charges against me, or is this unlikely?

Many thanks in advance for your kind help!

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If you gave her permission, you can be prosecuted for 'aiding and abetting' Basically means assisting someone to commit a crime. However, if you did not give her permission you will not be prosecuted at all and she could further be charged with theft.

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Thanks a lot for your reply. Do you think this scenario could be avoided if my housemate's statement that she used my ticket by mistake was accepted?

 

Also, as I mentioned before, do you think I should contact South West Trains to or the prosecution office to explain the facts? Would that help?

 

Many thanks in advance for any replies, I am really anxious about this.

Edited by Lupe
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Thanks a lot for your reply. Do you think this scenario could be avoided if my housemate's statement that she used my ticket by mistake was accepted?

 

Also, as I mentioned before, do you think I should contact South West Trains to or the prosecution office to explain the facts? Would that help?

 

Many thanks in advance for any replies, I am really anxious about this.

I know it's easy for me to say, but try not to worry at the moment. Don't contact SWT until either you or your housemate receives a letter in the post, this is because Prosecutions might know nothing about this fow at least a couple of week after the alledged offence, and calling now will be of no point. If SWT do want to prosecute your friend, it would be well worth him/her offering to pay all reasonable admin costs in order to stay out of court...This basically equates to an out of court settlement, and different comapny's have their set amounts, which isn't quite extorsion! Good Luck!
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Your friend has all the problems. All you need to say, if and when questioned, is the truth ie that you were out of the country and know nothing about this incident. There is a thing in law called mens rea ie guilty mind, you must think what you are doing was wrong for any criminal matter to reach a conviction. Even in civil law generally the person must have knowledge that he doing something that may not be 'right' (there is a huge area of debate over the relative rights and wrongs) so again even if you potentially had some liability you have to admit you knew what she was doing.

 

In short no knowledge of the act you are going to be Okay............. more tea officer???????

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thank you so much for your replies. I am of course very worried, I hope it's going to be OK. Do you think the Citizen Advice Bureau could give me useful advice for if and when I receive a letter? I will definitely need some advice if I need to provide any explanations in writing or in an interview (or in court?!). Do you think I should ask help from a solicitor in order to submit a clear effective defence? Should it be sufficient to explain the facts, stating basically that when I came back from my holiday, my friend told me she had used my ticket by mistake, thinking it was her ticket? Thanks a lot for your patience and for reading my posts, I very much appreciate your willingness to help!

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You don't have to give an explanation. All you have to say is I didn't know anything until my friend told me what had happened. The more you say the more you will say something you might regret. Stop worrying about something that hasn't happened and is unlikely to happen. Even your friend absolved you.

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Good advice from Papasmurf, if you are called for an interview, answer the questions honestly without elaborating. Not a good idea to lie, in case the 'prosecution' can show that you are lying. It may be worth showing stamps in passports or airline tickets if they support your case.

 

If your friend has been honest with you, and really did tell the Inspector that your ticket was taken without your knowledge, you have nothing to fear. I rather doubt that the 'prosecution' will be that interested in interviewing you, you have had plenty of time to chat with your friend and 'get your story straight', unless there is anything more sinister going on than simply using your ticket to avoid one or two fares.

 

If you are invited to an interview, it is probable that the 'invite' will be vague, but at the start of the interview, you will be told the general nature of why you are there, and what offences are being considered. If it feels a bit 'heavy', you can ask for the interview to be postponed until you have taken advice. If the matter is deemed 'serious', the interview could be by Police, who are likley to tape the interview, if 'the railway' carry out an investigation, it is more likley that they will take written contemporaneous notes.

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If it ever got to the stage where you are being interviewed in the manner outlined above, you should be told,

 

That you are not under arrest

 

That you have the right to consult a solicitor

 

That you are free to leave.

 

 

Personally I would leave and get a lawyer.

 

Say nothing until you get proper qualified legal advice.

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Good advice from Papasmurf, if you are called for an interview, answer the questions honestly without elaborating. Not a good idea to lie, in case the 'prosecution' can show that you are lying. It may be worth showing stamps in passports or airline tickets if they support your case.

 

If your friend has been honest with you, and really did tell the Inspector that your ticket was taken without your knowledge, you have nothing to fear. I rather doubt that the 'prosecution' will be that interested in interviewing you, you have had plenty of time to chat with your friend and 'get your story straight', unless there is anything more sinister going on than simply using your ticket to avoid one or two fares.

 

QUOTE]

 

thank you everyone for your advice. Of course I do have tickets and evidence to show I was away, and my friend told me that it was recorded in her statement to the inspector that she said I did not know about it. Nevertheless, I am very worried as it is all about maintaining this line and you don't know how it goes until things happen...Should it get "serious" as you say I will have to think twice before saying anything, that's for sure. Oh, and of course, there is nothing "sinister", it was a just girl being stupid!

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I hope your 'friend' is covering the cost of your travel until the matter is resolved.

If you truly had no knowledge of the ticket misuse you have nothing to fear.

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The advice that you have been given so far is excellent however, there are two things that I think you should both note in order to make this much easier for you.

 

1. In a case such as this, the chances of you being called to interview under PACE '84 are virtually non existent in my experience.

 

Your friend has said she took your ticket without your knowledge and therefore you are not implicated unless the prosecution can PROVE otherwise. On that basis they are unlikely to waste time and money pursuing a 'fishing expedition'.

 

2. It would help your friend enormously if she stops referring to having used your season ticket 'by mistake' unless she actually holds one of her own. Season tickets require photo-identity cards and if she did not have a season of her own, taking yours in order to avoid a fare cannot have been a mistake.

 

When she gets a letter from SWT, it would be far more sensible (and truthful) to expand on her frankness in the original interview and say that she 'apologises for a regretted and silly error of judgement in taking your ticket' and to ask if the company will allow her 'to settle the matter by paying the fares avoided and the company's reasonable costs incurred by her foolishness'. She might like to add that 'the effect of a successful prosecution would be likely to have a disproportionate effect on her future career prospects and that she is extremely sorry for her actions, which will never be repeated'.

 

That kind of honesty in owning-up and expressing remorse is much more likely to get a sympathetic ear.

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thank you SRPO and Old-CodJA. Unfortunately it may be more complicated than that, as I did leave the ticket at home with the awareness that she may use it while I was away. That was very, very stupid of me, I did not register the seriousness of something that may happen in circumstances like this, I totally underestimated the thing, I just did not think it through. I had no idea that there would be consequences for me, and so serious. I was just concentrated on getting ready for my trip and did not give it importance.

My friend feels so guilty and she doesn't want me to suffer any consequences, however, as you said Old-CodJA, they are not going to believe that she took it by mistake. She says that she buys single tickets in batches for her commuting to work everyday, and if asked, she wants to say that she was convinced she had taken her ticket for the day.

Now, if they have recorded that she said I did not know about it, and if I confirm that when asked, that would be good for me in theory, but that would then mean that she took it without my permission, wouldn’t that be theft? Her situation would then be worse and she would then have to say that I knew about it. That would be obviously worse as I would not have told the truth from the beginning. Do you think Old-CodJA that if she says what you suggest, i.e. that she was stupid to take my ticket etc, she would not be accused of stealing it? I am so scared and I wonder whether it wouldn’t be better for me to admit I knew that she was likely to use it and I underestimated the whole thing? I know that is bad, I am terrified of being prosecuted, but surely it would be far too harsh a punishment for me, I just made a misjudgement and I am just shocked that I may be having to deal with this. Never in my life since I was born I thought one day I may have to face something like this. It was a foolish mistake that I regret so much! Would I have any mitigating circumstances in my favour, that would play a role and make a difference?

Thank you in advance for your opinions, very very much appreciated.

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Lupe can't you and your friend just keep your mouthes zipped. Why are you continually thinking that you or your friend are in any way required to give anyone in authority and explanation. They caught her, she knew she shouldn't have done it she amy or may not be prosecuted for this offence any other allegation of theft or otherwise still needs to be proved. That means you would have to give a statement. You don't have to in fact you can say that your friend did a stupid thing and you decline to give a statement as she is still a friend and will continue to be a friend.

 

You don't have to co operate, you don't have to say anything and you don't have to help them convict her of anything else.

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From a practical viewpoint, the 'railway' have caught someone using a ticket that wasn't issued to them, on the face of it, to avoid a fare.

 

That is a relatively easy matter to prove, whereas trying to prove 'theft' is a whole different ball game. I would be very surprised if anyone working for the railway would contemplate such a charge, purely from a practical and pragmatic understanding of what is involved.

 

'Avoiding a rail fare', whether dealt with as a Byelaw or a Regulation of Railways Act offence is 'summary only', that is to say, it can only be dealt with in a Magistratews Court. Theft (Section 1, Theft Act 1968) is triable either way, which means that it can be heard in either a Magistrates or a Crown Court. I rather doubt that the Railway would want to know about that.

 

I think that both the OP and friend need to 'calm down'. The Railway will want some form of closure in this case that gives them a statistic that shows that they are protecting revenue, and a suitable amount of money that shows that they have recovered avoided fares at no cost to other fare paying passengers.

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When the 'friend' gets correspondence from the railway, it might be good to write to the railway offering to settle without going to Court. They will be looking for some form of assurance that the (at this point) alleged offender will not re-offend, and 'money'.

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thank you so much papasmurf and wriggler. My concern, having also read other threads, is if my friend is also charged with "receiving ticket with intent", which is very likely, and what happens if she pleads guilty to this charge. Also, should she fail to reach an out-of-court settlement, and things looked grim for her, just hypothetically, does that mean that things may get worse for me too? Sorry I know I sound very paranoid, but I really want to be aware of the worst case scenario and be prepared.

 

I am afraid that at some point I may get a letter with a charge for aiding and abetting, I don't know if it's possible that they may send me directly a letter with charges. At that point, would I be in trouble, and would I need to write to the train company or whoever sends the letter trying to obtain an out-of court settlement? Sorry I know it's difficult to say now as we haven't received anything yet, but I am very worried. I am very grateful for your opinions as obviously this is all new to me. And sorry if I'm being repetitive.

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thank you so much papasmurf and wriggler. My concern, having also read other threads, is if my friend is also charged with "receiving ticket with intent", which is very likely, and what happens if she pleads guilty to this charge. Also, should she fail to reach an out-of-court settlement, and things looked grim for her, just hypothetically, does that mean that things may get worse for me too? Sorry I know I sound very paranoid, but I really want to be aware of the worst case scenario and be prepared.

 

I am afraid that at some point I may get a letter with a charge for aiding and abetting, I don't know if it's possible that they may send me directly a letter with charges. At that point, would I be in trouble, and would I need to write to the train company or whoever sends the letter trying to obtain an out-of court settlement? Sorry I know it's difficult to say now as we haven't received anything yet, but I am very worried. I am very grateful for your opinions as obviously this is all new to me. And sorry if I'm being repetitive.

 

Lupe. Let me spell this out nice and easy. SHUT UP. Everytime you open your mouth you dig yourself deeper into it. You were out of the country and your housemate has told them she took it without your consent. If you were to be interviewed I could see you admitting to the kidnap of Shergar the way this thread is going.As it stands they have nothing on you to say you had any compliance to this action.

 

You have been given the best advice, SAY NOTHING, so please follow it.

 

Alternatively, if your guilt over this is eating you up, either take the full consequences of your actions by admitting all, or make a donation to a charity of an equivalent sum.

 

Sorry to be so blunt, but if you give out information in an interview the way you have in this thread then you will be crucified.

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I know, that is the way I am... I am just afraid that my friend may change her mind at some stage and say that I gave it to her, to prove that she took it with my consent.

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I know, that is the way I am... I am just afraid that my friend may change her mind at some stage and say that I gave it to her, to prove that she took it with my consent.

 

And what if she does? They have her first statement and her credibility isnt exactly high right now. She can blame the Queen if she wants, no-one will believe her. It is currently her problem, advice has been given to minimise the penalties she can expect. Try not to put yourself in the firing line !!

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It certainly would not be the act of a friend either! :shock:

 

She is already potentially guilty of 'Fraud by False Representation' and no-one else can be held responsible for her own actions.

 

And what if she does? They have her first statement and her credibility isnt exactly high right now. She can blame the Queen if she wants, no-one will believe her. It is currently her problem, advice has been given to minimise the penalties she can expect. Try not to put yourself in the firing line !!
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Hey Lupe....... there are two scenarios here............ 1........ you gave or allowed your friend to take and use your card and your fear is that you too will be caught in this affair and you have voiced this in this thread because you need to off load. If an investigator knocks on your door I am fairly confident that you will admit everything before the echo of the knock on the door fades into the distance..................... 2. ................ You are entirely innocent and your worry about your friend changing her mind is also genuine and you are in a quandary as to what to say as you don't have the confidence to say your friend is a thief.

 

To be honest your friend's character has been shattered and she is basically a dishonest person. She will be penalised according to the law. She will either remain a friend because you are complicit in any event (whether she holds to her story or changes her mind) or she will become an ex friend because she changes her story and drops you in it because she tells the truth or because she did in fact steal from you.

 

Lupe convession is good for the soul........... if you can't live with yourself over this and you have done something you regret best you don't lie. You have wound yourself up good and proper here I doubt many on here don't suspect you have something to regret over this entire incident!!!!!

 

Final piece of advice and please don't be offended but SAY NOTHING TO ANYONE.

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thank you everyone for your comments and papasmurf especially. I did allow her to take it, I was getting ready for my trip, I was concentrated on my stuff so I did not think too much about it. I regret not thinking it through, non paying attention to it. That was so silly, as I said, I underestimated the thing, I had no idea that if she was caught it could get so serious for the both of us. She used it the day after when I was away (I left the day before in the evening). In any case I did not know if she would eventually use it and did not know until I came back two days after.

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