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Hi all,

I have been prosecuted and set a summon for not having a train tkt during a revenue check by southern rail at Gatwick airport.

I plead not guilty and I due for a hearing on the 31st of Jan. in frotn of the Magistrate Court

As I cannot afford a lawyer I am defending my self with little knowledge apart what I can read on line.

 

Here the facts:

back in September I took a train in a hurry at East Croydon Station with the idea that I could do a train ticket (tkt) on the same train. That's what I always knew since I have done it in the past (I have proof for that). This time a tkt officer did not pass by so I was gonna go at Gatwick tkt office to pay the train tkt for that same journey.

 

Once off the train a revenue check was in action at the gate. As I saw them instantly I also saw a revenue officer before them dealing with a customer and I APPROACHED HIM waiting till he finished. When my turn came I explained the situation and asked kindly if I could do the ticket paying him.

He said it was not possible and that I had to pay a Penalty Fare(PF). I refused to do so as I believed was not fare for the fact that I did my tkt on the train in the past, He said that it was not possible to do a tkt on the train.

 

I refused to pay the PCN but he wrote a Witness Statement (WS) which I signed.

The statement is a standard one where he put the case as he stopped me, asks me a tkt and I had not tkt to show hence the PF.

There is part of the WS where the question is...

'I put it to you, that if I had not stopped you today, your rail fare would have been avoided. is that correct?'...

My reply on the WS: 'I was going to the office to buy the tkt' .

The officer said:' Why did you refuse a penalty fare?'

I replied:'The gate was open at East Croydon and the train to Gatwick was arriving. I took the chance to do the tkt on the train as I have done in the past." I then signed it reading it quite quickly even realizing soon after that the way it was put it was as he had stopped me but I was the person to approach him.

The prosecution in fact is based on the fact that I was stopped.

 

I also asked a copy of the statement and he refused to give me one even if they had a double carbon copy there , he also asked to another officer in the distance and he confirmed that I should not be given any copy.

Is this possible? It should be our right to have a copy.

 

Before receiving the summon I exchanged few letters with the Prosecutor where I re-wrote my statement explaining again the situation and how the facts went including the fact that I had done a tkt on the train in the past with no Penalty and that I had proof. Those were not accepted and they asked for a Summon.

 

The prosecutor in this letter says also: ''You will have noted that if a conductor sells a tkt on board one of our trains the tkt is endorsed with a Penalty Fare Warning as conductors are not licensed by DfT to issue Penalty Fare notice.'

When I buy the tkt on the train I thought that's it I am done, I am not going to read the terms and condition behind the tkt . How many people would do that?

Also in those terms and condition there is nothing saying that 'conductors are not licensed by DfT to issue Penalty Fare notice hence a warning is issued'. I think all should be more fair and clear to citizens.

 

A lawyer gave me a free 1st consultation saying that he noted that:

 

- You have pleaded not guilty to the offence. Hence, you will now no longer need to attend the Court on 23 December 2011 for the summons. The Court will now write to you with a new date for the trial. Please note that it is likely that the prosecution costs will also increase.

 

- You will be appearing at Court because you could not produce a valid ticket for your train journey. The offence under which this relates is 18 (2) of the Railway Byelaws. The section states;

 

'A person shall hand over his ticket for inspection and verification of validity when asked to do so by an authorised person.'

 

The potential defences to this are contained within 18 (3) of the Byelaws. I do not think that you have a defence under these as they are essentially when there are no facilities, a notice stating you do not need to pay, or permission to travel without a valid ticket.

 

However, under section 2 it states that you should show a valid ticket when asked to do so. You may have a defence here as you were not asked to show a ticket by the inspector, instead, you approached him. You will have to confirm if he ever actually asked you for a ticket.

 

 

Could I argue the inconsistency of the operate of Southern rail because I have done the ticket on the train before?

 

On their Terms & Condition there is a point saying (I was not aware of all the Terms & Cond. till I read them now):

"Can I pay at my destination if I am in a rush?

No, if you board on a train with no ticket, then you may] have to pay a Penalty Fare."

I am underlining the word MAY which I believe is a further point to argue as they may issue or may not issue the ticket

 

Could this be a winning case? is anyone gone through a similar situation? Still did not understand if this is a criminal or civil matter.

I also fee that the statement should had been sent to me before the summon and when there was a first conversation with the Prosecutor where initially was offered to me to pay 35 pounds to resolve the matter. Reading the Witness statement I signed, I could have remembered what I said or how it was putted from their side so for me maybe deciding differently and may be paying the sum. Or point put to the prosecutor that I was to approach them not that I was stopped so to make them think twice. Who knows!

 

Would be nice also to know whai and if I could ask money back for damage or else in case I win. I have no idea how it works for this in Court. I look forward to hearing from some one back!...

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You stand no chance I'm affraid, you were reported for a strict liability offence here, it doesn't matter that he didn't ask for a ticket as you didn't have one anyway, just because the gate was open doesn't mean you should just hop on without a ticket.

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Could I argue the inconsistency of the operate of Southern rail because I have done the ticket on the train before?

 

On their Terms & Condition there is a point saying (I was not aware of all the Terms & Cond. till I read them now):

"Can I pay at my destination if I am in a rush?

No, if you board on a train with no ticket, then you may] have to pay a Penalty Fare."

I am underlining the word MAY which I believe is a further point to argue as they may issue or may not issue the ticket

 

You have answered your questions with this little extract, MAY being like southern pointed out to you that not all conductors are penalty fare trained and ALSO the issue of a penalty fare is a discretion to the inspector. The guidance of your solictor has mislead you a little affraid, As for the notes of the inspector you argue about, that was correct procedure as he/she would have given you the opportunity to have read or to read the notes taken before signing.

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I am surprised that they appear to have charged Byelaw 18.2 in this instance, although it will stick.

 

If Southern had charged 18.1, the OP makes clear s/he doesn't have any defence. Para.4, line 7 of the original post says 'I took the chance'

 

Facilities were there to get a ticket, you didn't use them, you had not been given authority to board without a ticket.

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In the officers statement does he/she ask you if you have a valid ticket?

If they do, then that is the request for the ticket & by saying you dont have one you are unable to hand a ticket over IMO.

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thanks to all for the support, got few points more clear...

I still would like to make them understand that when I took the train I was sure I could do the tkt on it or would have gone to the tkt office to get one when there. Hoping they'd give me a chance as never had any train penalty before, that's all I wish ...

could I discuss all at the hearing and try to find a solution or now the trial in unavoidable?

Any one suggest what could I do now at the hearing?

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Hello there. I'm not sure the guys are around at the moment.

 

I don't know what the legal terms for the offence are for this, but from my knowledge of threads on this forum, you may well have passed a notice that told you not to board the train without a ticket. And if you do board without one, it's your responsibility to seek out a member of staff to buy one.

 

I don't know if you can try to negotiate an out of court settlement if the case has progressed beyond the magistrates' court, hopefully the guys will be able to tell you.

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Any one suggest what could I do now at the hearing?

 

I don't know if this answers your question or not, but have you read Old-CodJA's sticky on court appearances?

 

http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?313909-What-happens-when-you-get-to-court-by-Old-CodJA

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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From my experience, guards on the overnight Brighton Mainline services sometimes offer to sell tickets. As I understand it, they are not duty bound to sell any tickets at all as their job is to ensure the safety of the train.

 

As it's a Penalty Fare area, there is a buy before you board policy in effect. East Croydon is staffed 24 hours, the are at least 8 ticket machines on the concourse and if I'm not mistaken, the ticket office is open all night. Contrary to common belief, these are not provided for decoration. If you choose to ignore these and board a train without a valid ticket, the Train Operating Company is within its right to issue a Penalty Fare. And if you refuse to pay, they're within their right to proceed with a prosection for intent to avoid paying the fare, or at least failure to produce a valid ticket.

 

Many members of the public have a lax attitude to paying upfront for the service that the railway provides, which is not good enough. Obviously providing publicity on Penalty Fares and trusting people to buy a ticket when the barriers are open is not enough to ensure the fare is paid so perhaps the only way to get the message into some people's mind is a hefty charge and/or a prosecution.

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