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I found this forum via a Google search when looking for advice regarding my daughters case, and there seemed to be plenty of knowledgeable replies so I hope you don't mind me trying to gather your opinions.

 

Basically, my teenage daughter was travelling from our local train station to a larger town a few stops away to do some shopping with a friend. This is now just under 6 months ago. She purchased her ticket, and having not used the railway before, stupidly disposed of her ticket after going through the barriers and boarding her train.

 

She was later stopped by an RPI and was unable to produce a ticket. The RPI issued her with a penalty notice and took her name & address (but did not ask to see any photo ID to verify the information given).

 

The penalty notice was for over 4x the amount of the original fare, and my daughter explained her situation to the RPI. The RPI did not appear very sympathetic but said the penalty notice would be cancelled if it later transpired that a ticket had been purchased. She was not given the chance to buy another ticket despite having the cash on her.

 

My daughter didn't say anything to me at the time for fear of getting into trouble, and ignored the penalty notice thinking that the RPI would check with the original station and confirm a ticket was issued.

 

She heard nothing for 5 months and presumed the matter had been resolved internally. She has now had a letter from the Magistrates Court out of the blue, summonsing her to appear in court next month with an offence under '18 (2) Railway Byelaws 2005' for failing to hand over a ticket for inspection when required to do so by an authorised person.

 

Inside the envelope is a formal court summons, RPI witness statement, Prosecutions Manager's witness statement, and a copy of the original penalty notice (albeit illegible). The witness statement from the prosecutions manager states that my daughter was sent 2x written reminders prior to a summons being lodged, and that they received no reply, therefore he/she feels it was my daughters intention to travel and evade payment.

 

Neither of the 2x reminder letters have ever been received. We often have problems receiving mail as the post office confuse our post code and street name, which means we get other peoples mail and they get ours. I don't know whether the 2x letters were lost in the post or whether they just weren't sent at all. The witness statement does not refer to recorded delivery being used to prove receipt.

 

From my initial research on here, 18 (2) is a strict liability offence and my daughter has no defence whatsoever. She has not yet returned the slip indicating plea, so I feel we have 3 options (please let me know which one you would recommend):

 

1) Plead guilty by post, and submit written mitigation explaining daughters previous good character (no previous convictions/cautions and no history of fare dodging) and youthful naivety of the railway system, in addition to situation regarding not receiving any penalty notice reminders in the post. And then hope the Magistrates show some leniency.

 

2) Plead guilty and appear in person, read out a prepared statement apologising for wasting the courts time and outline the same mitigation as above. And then hope the Magistrates are more lenient having received a remorseful apology in person.

 

3) Contact the TOC Prosecutions Manager and request to settle the matter out of court ASAP. In the summons, the prosecution are requesting £120 contribution to costs and payment for the original fare.

 

Just a few questions:

 

1) My daughter only works 10 hours a week at minimum wage, earning no more than £65 a week. Out of that she has to pay for her mobile phone bill and £35 a week 'keep' to her mother and I. She has no savings. She has been asked to complete a means testing form sent in the summons pack in case she is given a heavy fine. The prosecution are seeking £120 costs + original fare, and I presume she will be fined on top of this, as well as a £15 victim surcharge and court courts? What kind of figure can she expect to be paying in total if she pleads guilty? Will she be allowed to pay the figure in installments given her low salary?

 

2) Are the TOC likely to settle out of court given they have now started proceedings in the Magistrates Court? If so, what would be a reasonable figure? Will they perhaps accept an offer of the original fare and/or the penalty fare? Or will she be expected to pay a similar amount to the final judgement in court, and if so, will the TOC accept installments?

 

3) Would anybody with significant experience of railway byelaw cases in the magistrates courts be willing to view the summons and witness statements via PM and see whether there are any technical errors or irregularities which could invalidate the TOC's case? I don't normally look favourably on people trying to avoid justice on a technicality but it seems only fair to pull the TOC up on minor mistakes when they did the same to a young girl who hadn't been on a train since she was 7 years old and who tried to explain the lost ticket to the RPI.

 

Thank you in advance for any help with this matter.

 

WorriedFather!

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Hello and welcome to CAG. I hope the forum regulars will be along during the course of the weekend with advice for you.

 

I can make a couple of comments but am not one of the experts.

 

I don't think it's too late to speak to the TOC and try to settle and this can be done at any time up to the court date.

 

If it does end up in court, attending and showing remorse is something that the guys here recommend and it can have a beneficial effect on the outcome.

 

Fines take account of someone's income and I expect someone will know whether the £120 is likely to be reduced.

 

Are you prepared to tell us your daughter's age in case it's relevant please?

 

And lastly, advice by PM is not recommended here. If the guys think they need to see the correspondence, they may ask you to post it up here with personal details removed, but I have to say that we normally advise without seeing the paperwork.

 

Please bear with us until people can get here; weekends are always a bit quieter here.

 

My best, HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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As HB has correctly pointed out, in a 'worst case' scenario it is not too late for your daughter to attempt to reach a settlement with the rail company. At the very worst your daughter can attend Court on the day of the hearing with sufficient cash to allow a reasonable chance of settlement and to ask to speak with the prosecutor outside the Courtroom, but before the case is called.

 

I say 'your daughter' can do this advisedly because if she has received a Magistrates Court Summons, this suggests that she is over 18 years of age and is therefore considered to be the responsible adult. This is not something that you are going to be able to deal with on her behalf unless you are a qualified lawyer and engaged as representing her in this instance.

 

The fact that there is a 21 days appeal period and then two reminder letters sent out by the processing agency at about 14 day intervals after issue of a Penalty Notice and then a further wait before issunig a Summons, does make it less likely that they will be inclined to allow an out of Court settlement, but there is nothing to stop you trying.

 

A well worded apology, including an offer to pay the rail companys' reasonably incurred costs, along with an explanation that a conviction at the beginning of a promising career will have a disproportionte effect on her future, just might do the trick and there's absolutely no reason why you cannot help her with that letter of course.

Edited by Old-CodJA

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