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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 February 2006, 17:54 GMT
Commuter cleared over 10p 'dodge'
Jennifer Burton
Jennifer Burton said she was very happy at the magistrates' decision
A passenger accused of deliberately underpaying her 1.20 train fare by just 10p has been cleared in court.

Jennifer Burton, 23, of Headingley, told Dewsbury magistrates she made a "genuine mistake" when buying a ticket for her journey into Leeds in August.

Northern Rail pressed charges after Miss Burton was caught buying a ticket from a station one stop closer to the city than where she boarded the train.

Magistrates said it had not been proved that her actions were intended.

Miss Burton was cleared of travelling on the railway without having previously paid the fare of 10p and with the intention of avoiding payment thereof.

She was also acquitted of giving a false address to the ticket inspector who stopped her.

The court heard Miss Burton caught the train at Headingley, where there were no ticket facilities, and was unable to pay her fare until she reached the barrier at Leeds station.

As soon as I realised my mistake I tried to correct it
Jennifer Burton

But she admitted that instead of saying she boarded the train at Headingley she told the attendant she got on at Burley Park, a fare that was 10p cheaper.

She did not know Northern Rail had put up barriers at Burley Park to stop anyone without a ticket boarding the train there as part of a sting operation.

When questioned by a Northern Rail inspector Miss Burton confirmed she had travelled from Burley Park and gave an old address from that area.

She later gave her real address and said her mistake had been prompted by nerves about starting a new job in the city.

She told the court she had lived in Burley for three years and giving her old address was an automatic response.

Prosecution justified

"It was not done deliberately," she said. "As soon as I realised my mistake I tried to correct it."

Earlier Simon Revell, for Northern Rail, said the prosecution for the 10p fare and 100 costs was justified.

"These 10ps add up and amount, in the last year for which there were figures, to 210m nationwide."

But chairman of the bench Christine Clayborough said they felt they had not proved beyond reasonable doubt that Miss Burton's actions were intended.

Speaking after the case, Miss Burton said she was "extremely relieved" that justice had been done.

Northern Rail said it respected the court's decision but would continue to prosecute anyone suspected of fare dodging.

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