Ticket touts lose appeal

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The Independent Online
THREE PEOPLE caught reselling London Underground tickets and travel cards yesterday lost appeals in a case that may affect all touts, and even motorists.

In dismissing the three men's challenge to theft convictions, Lord Justice Mantell in the Court of Appeal in London said: "This appeal could have implications ... even for the ordinary motorist who passes on the benefit of an unexpired parking ticket."

The judge, sitting with Mrs Justice Ebsworth and Judge Martin Stephens QC, said that in late 1996 the appellants - Adrian John Marshall, Robert Peter Coombes and Birol Eren - were video-recorded obtaining underground tickets or travel cards from members of the public passing through the barriers, and reselling them to other potential customers.

They had been observed and recorded as part of an operation by London Underground at Victoria station.

London Underground said it had been deprived of revenue which it might otherwise have expected to receive from the people who bought the tickets.

Lord Justice Mantell said the matter came before a judge in March last year. On that occasion Judge Hardy ruled that all the components of theft were present save for the question of dishonesty, which was a matter for the jury. In consequence, the appellants later pleaded guilty to the indictment. Marshall asked for 78 other offences to be taken into consideration, Coombes for 59 and Eren for 47. Marshall and Coombes were placed on probation and Eren was ordered to serve 40 hours community service.

They took their case to the Court of Appeal seeking to have the convictions set aside, claiming that Judge Hardy's ruling was "erroneous".

The three claimed that there was "no evidence of an intention to permanently deprive" London Underground - they had intended to return the tickets either direct to London Underground, or through the third-party buyer without resale to London Underground.

But Lord Justice Mantell said: "The appellants by their pleas having acknowledged that they were acting dishonestly, it seems to us that there is no reason to consider the convictions unsafe."

The decision was welcomed by London Underground. Spencer McManus, general manager network services, commented: "Ticket touting ... is an offence against which action must be taken. London Underground, in conjunction with the British Transport Police, pursues these cases with great care."

London Underground loses pounds 30m a year through fraud, which includes revenue lost through ticket touting.