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SWT Intent to avoid payment Court on Thursday - ** SETTLED ON DAY OF COURT CASE **


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Hi All,

 

In late November last year, I was stopped at London Waterloo, having walked through open turnstyles without a ticket.

 

 

On 5th January this year I received a letter from SWT Prosecutions Department asking me to submit any mitigating factors to them within 14 days, which I did.

Then a couple of weeks ago, a summons arrived, with 2 charges:

 

1) Did travel, or attempt to travel, upon a railway without having previously paid the fare and with the intention to avoid payment thereof,

 

2) Did contravene Byelaw No.9(2), in that you did without permission from an authorised person,

enter or leave railway premises without passing through the manned or automatic barrier, in the correct manner.

 

Background.

 

In August 2014 my family moved to Farnham, Surrey, having lived in London for 15 years.

From then on I began commuting into London Waterloo from Farnham, buying a weekly season ticket each week.

 

 

On the day in question, I'd got on the train before realising mine had expired.

Usually a ticket inspector checks everyone's tickets and offers new ones to people wanting to purchase one.

The train was unusually busy, and I did not see him before arriving at London Waterloo.

 

On approaching the ticket barriers, one was open, so I stroud through.

 

 

At that point I was detained by a very hostile ticket inspector, who alledged I'd barged through behind a fee paying passenger, and the rest is history.

 

My gut feeling for a defence here, is that the title of the first charge, simply isn't true.

 

 

I never had the 'the intention to avoid payment thereof', and renewed my season ticket later that day in order to commence the return leg of my journey.

 

I spoke to the Prosecutions department recently, who said settling out of court was unfeasible.

 

 

They also said that they'd looked into whether I was a season ticket holder, but nothing turned up

- as I only buy weekly tickets, as can't afford the lengthier ones

- and coupled with the fact that I had barged behind a passenger, a prosecution was appropriate.

 

The honest fact of the matter is that the gate was open, and I barged behind no-one.

I simply - and niaively - said to myself, I'll renew my ticket later, which I did.

 

 

I can deal with the Byelaw infringement, but have relatives in Australia and the US,

and am likely in the future to need CRB checks, so am keen to avoid a conviction.

 

I've left this rather late, as have to be in Court at 10am on thursday, so am desparate for any advice anyone can offer.

 

Jamie

Edited by jhchill666
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Until recently, I used to commute into Waterloo every working day.

There has always been a member of staff on a platform

- yours or an adjacent one

- whom you could approach to buy a ticket from.

 

 

The fact that you

 

 

a) didn't seek out a SWT employee on the train or the platforms and

b) then proceeded to walk through the barriers will, in my view, provide sufficient evidence to secure a conviction on both points.

 

I have read cases on here where people have sought out the prosecutor immediately before the case in heard in court to plead for an administrative settlement,

stressing the disproportional impact on your personal or professional life.

 

 

I understand you will need to take several hundred pounds in cash with you in order to settle the matter there and then.

But there is no guarantee they will agree of course.

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Thanks for your reply.

I was stupid going through the gate, i'll admit, but the honest truth, is that I didn't ever intend to defraud, and they were never out of pocket at all.

 

 

I intended to renew my ticket at the earliest I could, and did.

 

 

From a legal stand point, surely the title of the charge cannot be proven.

 

 

Or conversely, surely in a sane world, looking at my bank statements to see back-to-back season tickets purchases,

should suffice to prove I'm not an habitual fare evader, that should be marked for life with a criminal conviction?

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Very doubtful if you, at the time of purchase of your new ticket, would have said 'oh and take for a single journey I have just made'.

 

 

Prosecution to me is very very wrong and needs to be stamped on. A penalty charge of say £100 would be more beneficial to the company but it seems they enjoy ruining people life.

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Hello there.

 

You can continue to plead and negotiate right up to and including the day of the trial, as Vauban says. I hope some of our rail guys will see this and comment, because I think it might help to revise your story a bit.

 

The problem I can see is that you seem to be arguing with SWT and trying to say it's their fault. This never goes down well. What has worked in the past is remorse and aplogising and even then it's likely to be expensive.

 

I'll send a couple of SOSs for you and see if we can find an expert.

 

HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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But honestly people, the SWT guys admitted that they thought this a good case for prosecution,

as couldn't find any season ticket evidence for me,

coupled with the statement by the ticket inspector,

who suggested I barged behind a fee paying customer.

And yes, from that perspective it looks like I'm a fare evader.

 

But surely presenting them with the facts, should get them to reconsider the prosecution?

 

Is continuing to phone SWT Prosecution department pleaing for settliing out of court worth doing?

And is it too late to get an out of court settlement, actually on the morning of the initial visit to court?

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It's never too late until the judges hammer comes down. A case can always be withdrawn but once court fees have been paid, this will be included in any compensation they think will they can get away with.

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Thanks honeybee13. Appreciated. I don't mean to deflect the blame from me to SWT at all. My anger here, is the system, and the predicament I've got myself into.

 

Sure, I understand. Let's get your arguments right on here and then you can ring them and/or talk to the prosecutor on the day.

 

HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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It's never too late until the judges hammer comes down. A case can always be withdrawn but once court fees have been paid, this will be included in any compensation they think will they can get away with.

 

 

Sadly, whilst I understand that you seem to have an axe to grind with prosecutions, the legislation put in place and reviewed by successive parliaments decides the process and until that is changed, we have to work with what we have.

 

This kind of inaccurate and emotive response doesn't really help the OP, it will not be a Crown Court Judge who hears the case, it's a summary matter heard before a Magistrates Court and Court fees are not included in any compensation awards made by the Bench if a defendant is convicted, there may be a separate application for costs, which may or may not be ordered in full

 

 

 

But honestly people, the SWT guys admitted that they thought this a good case for prosecution, as couldn't find any season ticket evidence for me, coupled with the statement by the ticket inspector, who suggested I barged behind a fee paying customer. And yes, from that perspective it looks like I'm a fare evader.

 

But surely presenting them with the facts, should get them to reconsider the prosecution?

 

Is continuing to phone SWT Prosecution department pleaing for settliing out of court worth doing? And is it too late to get an out of court settlement, actually on the morning of the initial visit to court?

 

 

You should continue to attempt to reach a settlement, but it is entirely at the discretion of SWT whether or not they accept and yes, you can as a last resort attend and try to convince the prosecutor at Court to accept a settlement on behalf of his principal, but if you are successful remember you will need to be able to pay in full there and then.

 

The key thing is to remember the words of a former Master of the Rolls Lord Denning, when he said that the Court should not be required to guess what the accused intended to do by looking into his mind, but that 'a man will be judged on his words and actions at the time'.

 

It seems that you could not produce a valid ticket and did not pay before attempting to travel when facilities to get a ticket were available to you.

 

If it is likely that your employment might be in jeopardy if you are convicted of a criminal offence; If you have real financial difficulties; If you have a clean record otherwise, these are the things you need to be focusing on.

 

As HB has suggested, simply trying to blame SWT or anyone else for what was your action, will not get anywhere in my opinion. As Lord Denning said, in circumstances like this, it is YOUR words & actions at the material time that matter.

 

You may yet manage to get them to change their mind, but this depends on all of the evidence that they have in support of their action.

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Thanks OC for your input.

 

May I ask, you say "you will need to be able to pay in full there and then" if a settlement is accepted. What do this entail exactly? Would plastic suffice? Would I likely lose the settlement option if I couldn't present the full amount, in cash, there and then. And by that I mean, popping down the road to a cash point not being allowed?

 

Also, what evidence need I take to the preliminary court appearance? As I understand, should I plead Not Guilty, then a date will be fixed, for the trial, where I will need all the evidance I can muster. Might it be useful to take what I can, in order to satisfy the prosecutor at court as to my being a good candidate for settling out of court?

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Hello again.

 

My understanding is that you need cash. OC always suggests turning up to the court armed with it. I don't know about popping down the road to a hole in the wall, you're not asking to pay in instalments. Hopefully though, someone will give you an idea of how much to take with you.

 

Why do you want to plead Not Guilty though? IMHO, you seem to have done what they say you did.

 

HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Well, correct me if I'm far off the mark, but

 

a) I want to avoid a Criminal Conviction, and

b) The first charge that has been brought against me, is untrue.

 

It states that, I Did travel, or attempt to travel, upon a railway without having previously paid the fare and with the intention to avoid payment thereof

 

This I completely refute. I'm guilty of being absent minded, naive, in a rush, and having other things on my mind, as we all are in our daily lives, but I am categorically not guilt of having had the intention to avoid paying my fare.

 

Does this count for nothing? I can show back-to-back season ticket purchases. I fully co-operated with their overly aggressive staff. But I did not intend to defraud SWT.

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Thanks OC for your input.

 

May I ask, you say "you will need to be able to pay in full there and then" if a settlement is accepted. What do this entail exactly? Would plastic suffice? Would I likely lose the settlement option if I couldn't present the full amount, in cash, there and then. And by that I mean, popping down the road to a cash point not being allowed?

 

Also, what evidence need I take to the preliminary court appearance? As I understand, should I plead Not Guilty, then a date will be fixed, for the trial, where I will need all the evidance I can muster. Might it be useful to take what I can, in order to satisfy the prosecutor at court as to my being a good candidate for settling out of court?

 

 

 

Your best chance of a settlement will be with SWT before arriving at Court. The last resort of trying to persuade the prosecutor on the day relies on he, or she, being able to contact SWT and agree it. In my experience plastic is unlikely to be accepted at a Court door.

 

In order to successfully plead 'not guilty' you will need to be able to convince the Magistrates that you are not guilty of the offence with which you are charged.

 

If this is a first listed hearing and if you plead 'Not Guilty', the case will not be heard on Thursday.

 

It will be adjourned for a full trial to take place at a later date.

 

When that trial takes place the prosecutor will call the witness, or witnesses if there are more than one. The primary witness will be the inspector who stopped you and made out a report. There might have been CCTV evidence, or a record from a gate-line monitor, but if these haven't already been referred to it seems they are not relying on such evidence.

 

Let's look at what you say you did.

 

You say that you passed through an open gate. In the morning peak period it is rare for any gate-line not to be fully operational at most mainline London stations. I suspect that it is very likely that, with a crowded peak time train arriving at Waterloo, the gate was only open in front of you in that crowded area because someone had just put a valid ticket in and you passed through behind them with no valid ticket of your own.

 

That is not passing through a gate-line in the prescribed manner and the wording of the Byelaw charge is perfectly correct.

 

You travelled from Farnham where the ticket office opens at 06.10 each weekday morning and is open until 20.00 hours. There are also self-service ticket machine facilities at the station.

 

Purchasing a ticket later in the day, or after having been reported is not a valid defence. The wording of Section 5 of the Regulation of Railways Act [1889] is very precise in saying '....having not previously paid his fare.....' Paying after the offence is detected does not negate the charge.

 

You did not buy a ticket before or during travel and had not previously paid your fare.

 

These are the facts that the prosecutor will be putting to the Magistrates

 

You have on several occasions referred to 'their overly aggressive staff'. I really do not think this is helping you at all. It's worth considering whether or not you may also have reacted in any way to what you claim to be 'aggression' and if so, whether the prosecutor might benefit from drawing such information out of the witness at trial.

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I'm starting to understand that I need to get this settled before Thursday, as what I'd considered to be a solid case, seems to crumbling around me!

 

I'll just answer/respond to a few of your points if I may:

 

The gate was indeed open. I hadn't mentioned what time it was, but the statement of facts says 9:30, which in my experience is marginally after the busy city peak period. As I walked to the gates, the gate was open.

 

You say the wording is very precise, in that "having not previously paid his fare", and I'd agree, the wording is very precise, "having not previously paid his fare, and with the intention to avoid payment thereof".

 

Yes, Farnham opens early and the ticketing facilities are sufficient. Yet, do I have a responsibility to purchase a ticket before boarding a train, where a ticket may happily be bought from an on-board conductor?

 

As such, I was not able to buy a ticket, as the conductor did not make his pass.

 

For what it's worth, there have been occasions since that day when exactly the same scenario has unfolded, yet when reaching the gates, I've approached a member of SWT staff, and the always just let me through the gates and I go and update my ticket.

 

I can categorically say, that at all times, I conducted myself in a calm and civilised manner.

 

 

Do you think I'm wasting my time OC, in defending my pride and trying to stand up to them???? If I plead guilty and be done with it, am I certain of a criminal conviction?

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You say the wording is very precise, in that "having not previously paid his fare", and I'd agree, the wording is very precise, "having not previously paid his fare, and with the intention to avoid payment thereof".

 

 

Yes, the prosecutor will advise the Court that it is the company's assertion that you intended to avoid payment. Let's again look at the details that the Magistrates will be asked to consider,

 

i) the ticket office was open at Farnham you did not use it

ii) you did not use the machine at Farnham

iii) you did not declare your journey and pay your fare on train, nor to the guard on arrival at Waterloo platform

iv) the inspector has reported that you passed through the barrier gate by 'barging' through.

v) you were stopped and interviewed before exiting the station

 

Yes, Farnham opens early and the ticketing facilities are sufficient. Yet, do I have a responsibility to purchase a ticket before boarding a train, where a ticket may happily be bought from an on-board conductor?

 

As such, I was not able to buy a ticket, as the conductor did not make his pass.

 

Yes, National Railway Byelaw 18.1 (2005) makes a strict liability requirement that where pre-purchase facilities are available at a station, the person who intends to travel must pay the fare before boarding any train unless one of three specific exemptions are met.

 

Byelaw 18. Ticketless travel in Non-Compulsory Ticket Areas

 

(1) In any area not designated as a compulsory ticket area, no person shall enter any train for the purpose of travelling on the railway unless he has with him a valid ticket entitling him to travel

 

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

 

(3) No person shall be in breach of Byelaw 18(1) or 18(2) if:

 

(i) there were no facilities in working order for the issue or validation of any ticket at the time when, and the station where, he began his journey; or

(ii) there was a notice at the station where he began his journey permitting journeys to be started without a valid ticket; or

(iii) an authorised person gave him permission to travel without a valid ticket.

It appears that none of the exemptions apply in this case. A custom & practice of past travel might well be put as mitigation, but it does not exempt the traveller from responsibility to comply with the Byelaw.

 

The inconsistencies are something that many of us in the industry really want to see sorted out, but such vagaries must not be relied upon as reason for never complying with the rules I'm afraid.

 

Do you think I'm wasting my time OC, in defending my pride and trying to stand up to them????

 

I'm concerned by your use of language in as you put it 'standing up to them'. I do think that this element of 'conflict' isn't helping your case, if your correspondence & telephone calls have been conducted in that vein throughout, I think it is more likely that SWT will simply let prosecution run its course.

 

If I plead guilty and be done with it, am I certain of a criminal conviction?

 

Yes if the charge of 'intention to avoid payment' is pursued and convicted.

 

However, conviction for the Byelaw offence does not result in a criminal record.

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I note that the OP has now posted exactly the same queries on another forum with pretty well exactly the same responses from the majority of respondents. On that basis I don't think there is anything further of value that I can add.

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Yes I did, I posted the same query at the same time as starting this thread, but hadn't seen any of the replies until now.

 

One final question if I may. How much cash would you suggest I need to bring along on Thursday?

 

Once again Old-CodJA and Honeybee13, I do honestly appreciate the time you've given me on this. :)

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I would look at the costs application that SWT will have made to the Court (notified to you with your summons) and consider taking at least double that with you.

 

At this stage I think it unlikely that the prosecutor will accept, but you lose nothing by asking.

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Ok, so, I'm now done!

 

I managed to get to speak with the Prosecutor before the session started, and put my case to her. I was humble, yet contrite, and presented documentary evidence to show, that I was a man of good character, had a back to back history of season tickets upto the date of the offence, and my plee of mitigation was genuine.

 

She accepted my remorse and agreed to settle out of court. I am very glad to now have this behind me, and can't thank everyone on this forum enough for their input.

 

Thanks everyone! :)

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Well done you! I think you adopted the right approach, it certainly worked for you. :) It was up to the wire though, wasn't it?

 

Are you prepared to tell us how much the prosecutor asked for or you offered please? It would help other people in the same situation as you were.

 

I'll amend your thread title.

 

HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Absolutely. She suggested I pay costs totaling £360, which is certainly digestible. Was definitely up to the wire though!

 

I think the biggest hurdle I had to overcome mentally, was accepting that what I had done, for what ever reason, was wrong, and plead guilty. When I first posted on this forum, I honestly had a point to prove and thought I would succeed with a Not-Guilty plea.

 

The best advice I can give anyone, is to accept that what you did contravened the conditions of carriage, take it on the chin, and present yourself well.

 

The Prosecutor turned out to be of the Human variety, and when presented with documentary evidence for all the points I raised, came to a common sense conclusion.

 

If you're intent on cheating the system, the system will come down on you. But people are falliable, and do make mistakes, and I'm glad to see that common sense, at the end of the day, often - but not always - shines through.

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hey great result

10/10 yo OJ

 

 

saves the day again.

 

 

dx

 

 

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