Man Jailed For 21 Days For Dodging £2.70 Train Ticket

A man was jailed for 21 days for not buying a £2.70 train ticket.

Bradley Howsego, 22, was banged to rights after admitting to magistrates he had 'bunked' the fare.

However yesterday Howsego was freed by a Crown Court judge who branded the sentence handed down as 'entirely inappropriate'.

The court heard that, ahead of the initial sentencing, magistrates had wrongly been told by a rail company that he was a serial dodger.

But Judge Jonathan Seely said fare evasion was not a crime in European countries and dismissed claims by train operator Greater Anglia that Howsego had six previous convictions for fare evasion which warranted a harsh sentence.

Credit: PA Images

He accepted Howsego, from Colchester, Essex, had only been caught at twice for fare evasion before he got caught not paying his £2.70 fare by a ticket inspector last June.

Howsego's defence lawyer, Sarah Steggles, told Chelmsford Crown Court that the Government needed to decriminalise train ticket evasion.

She spoke as Howswego appealed his sentence handed to him by magistrates in the town on July 18.

He said Howsego had been fined for one previous conviction for fare evasion but added: "There's absolutely no suggestion that it's anything other than simply not buying a ticket and travelling."

Judge Seely, who was acting as a magistrates chairman to hear the appeal, said: "It must have been a very short journey.

Credit: PA Images

"I observe in passing that in many European countries fare evasion is not a criminalised matter at all.

"We are unanimously of the view... the custodial sentence is entirely inappropriate."

Ms Steggles, who was duty defence solicitor for Howsego before the Chelmsford JPs, said: "In court I was wrongly told by the clerk and the magistrates that Mr Howsego had six different convictions for railway evasion."

The judge said: "I'm concerned because obviously mistakes are made both ways in relations to previous matters recorded."

Ms Steggles told the court her client was only caught without a railway ticket 'once or twice' and was fined on the spot without being prosecuted.

The judge reduced Bradley's sentence to a nominal one-day in jail for not paying his ticket for the short journey from Hythe to Colchester stations 'proceeding on the basis' he had only one previous fare evasion.

Credit: PA Images

He also reduced a 13-week jail sentence over driving offences following a crash to 52 days which was imposed at the same hearing at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on July 18.

Judge Seely said: "A single offence of fare evasion on the railway committed on the 22nd of June 2016... we have regard to all the submission made by both advocates, we have had regard to the defendant's relatively lightly convicted antecedent history... as far as the fare evasion matter is concerned we take the view in all the circumstances of this case that there will be a sentence of one day in prison concurrent to the 52 days we have ordered."

The court heard Bradley had been on a BTEC Health & Safety course in prison.

Speaking out of court, Ms Steggles said train companies prosecute cases with non-legally qualified representatives 'all the time'.

She added: "I just think it was shocking decision that should never have happened.

"It happened because the magistrates overstretched the rail and the most appalling things about it was not letting him out on bail because it frustrated the appeal.

"I just don't believe that we should be sending people away for railway fares.

"It's not an offence that is criminally culpable in that way, the railway authorities should take it into their own house and ban them.

"It's an offence that doesn't warrant custody period - if there's a problem the railway authorities could enforce their own rules.

"It should be decriminalised, I just don't see what the criminality is."

Featured Image Credit: SWNS

James Dawson

James Dawson is a Journalist at LADbible. He has contributed articles to LADbible’s ‘Knowing Me, Knowing EU’ series on the EU referendum, the 'Electoral Dysfunction' series on the 2017 general election, the ‘U OK M8?’ series tackling mental health amongst young men, and for its ‘Climate Change’ initiative in partnership with National Geographic.

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