Law student gets £1,000 bill over

Daniel is left 'gutted' after magistrates find against him despite claims of mistaken identity

Lizzie Murphy

Law student Daniel Jackson claims it was a case of mistaken identity, but he found himself on the wrong side of the dock and 1,000 out of pocket after he was prosecuted over a 40p rail fare.

Mr Jackson, 19, denied going one stop too far in March 2005 but magistrates found him guilty at a hearing in Dewsbury.

The former Ilkley Grammar School pupil said he bought a 1.70 single ticket from Bradford Forster Square to his home station of Burley in Wharfedale, but was accused of continuing his journey to the next station, Ben Rhydding – a fare difference of 40p.

Mr Jackson, now a first-year law student at the University of Westminster, said he was astounded at the verdict.

He insists that he had no reason to continue his journey the three miles beyond his destination, and says the basis of Northern Rail's claim rests on a clear case of mistaken identity.

He said: "I was certainly surprised and absolutely gutted about the verdict. I couldn't believe it when this whole thing started and now it has come to this.

"I'm sure it is a case of mistaken identity. The conductor sold me the ticket on the train and I got off at Burley in Wharfedale with a load of other people, all dressed in suits as I was. They obviously didn't see me get off the train and maybe thought I got off at the next stop."

The company was able to contact Mr Jackson because the conductor knew where he lived.

With only an income from a part-time job, which was intended to reduce his student debt, Mr Jackson is now facing the prospect of finding funds to cover the 150 fine and 850 prosecution costs awarded against him. The court insisted that the full amount should be paid within one year.

Ironically, he is working part-time in court as a paralegal to pay the money but is worried the conviction could have a negative impact on his future career.

He said: "I want to go into the legal profession but to do that I have to disclose any previous convictions. I don't have any except this one, which could cause problems.

"This case has had a massive impact on my life in general. For the last year I haven't been able to relax with this over my head and everything has reminded me of the case."

Mr Jackson said he is considering appealing against the court's decision but he said financial constraints may hold him back.

"Even though I'm innocent, I have to find out the financial ramifications of appealing and losing because I can't afford to pay any more than I am doing," he said.

A Northern Rail spokeswoman said: "This case serves to highlight the issue of fare evasion, which collectively costs the industry 210m per year.

"In the interests of the vast majority of passengers who pay the correct fare and also the wider rail industry, Northern will continue to prosecute those who openly ignore the rules, in an effort to resolve this problem."

The case, which took place on Tuesday, emerged only weeks after the Yorkshire Post revealed Northern Rail was prosecuting a passenger who underpaid her fare by 10p – and demanding 100 in costs.

Jennifer Burton said she made a mistake when she bought a ticket at Leeds station saying she boarded at Burley Park rather than at Headingley, further out from the city centre, as she rushed to a new job in Leeds.

Mr Jackson, 19, denied going one stop too far in March 2005 but magistrates found him guilty at a hearing in Dewsbury.

The former Ilkley Grammar School pupil said he bought a 1.70 single ticket from Bradford Forster Square to his home station of Burley in Wharfedale, but was accused of continuing his journey to the next station, Ben Rhydding – a fare difference of 40p.

Mr Jackson, now a first-year law student at the University of Westminster, said he was astounded at the verdict.

He insists that he had no reason to continue his journey the three miles beyond his destination, and says the basis of Northern Rail's claim rests on a clear case of mistaken identity.

He said: "I was certainly surprised and absolutely gutted about the verdict. I couldn't believe it when this whole thing started and now it has come to this.

"I'm sure it is a case of mistaken identity. The conductor sold me the ticket on the train and I got off at Burley in Wharfedale with a load of other people, all dressed in suits as I was. They obviously didn't see me get off the train and maybe thought I got off at the next stop."

The company was able to contact Mr Jackson because the conductor knew where he lived.

With only an income from a part-time job, which was intended to reduce his student debt, Mr Jackson is now facing the prospect of finding funds to cover the 150 fine and 850 prosecution costs awarded against him. The court insisted that the full amount should be paid within one year.

Ironically, he is working part-time in court as a paralegal to pay the money but is worried the conviction could have a negative impact on his future career.

He said: "I want to go into the legal profession but to do that I have to disclose any previous convictions. I don't have any except this one, which could cause problems.

"This case has had a massive impact on my life in general. For the last year I haven't been able to relax with this over my head and everything has reminded me of the case."

Mr Jackson said he is considering appealing against the court's decision but he said financial constraints may hold him back.

"Even though I'm innocent, I have to find out the financial ramifications of appealing and losing because I can't afford to pay any more than I am doing," he said.

A Northern Rail spokeswoman said: "This case serves to highlight the issue of fare evasion, which collectively costs the industry 210m per year.

"In the interests of the vast majority of passengers who pay the correct fare and also the wider rail industry, Northern will continue to prosecute those who openly ignore the rules, in an effort to resolve this problem."

The case, which took place on Tuesday, emerged only weeks after the Yorkshire Post revealed Northern Rail was prosecuting a passenger who underpaid her fare by 10p – and demanding 100 in costs.

Jennifer Burton said she made a mistake when she bought a ticket at Leeds station saying she boarded at Burley Park rather than at Headingley, further out from the city centre, as she rushed to a new job in Leeds.