Follow the tracks: Who is Stonegate’s great train fare robber?

Sussex villagers are trying to identify the hedge fund manager in their midst who dodged rail fares worth £42,000

His identity remains a mystery – but whoever he is, the hedge fund executive who managed to dodge £42,000-worth of train fares has certainly got the villagers of Stonegate gossiping.

Locals in the East Sussex community were today trying to work out whether they had ever exchanged words or shared a pint with the culprit, who is thought to be the biggest fare dodger in history, after avoiding the full price of his commute for five years.

“I’ve had lots of clients talking about it,” said a local hairdresser, who like many residents didn’t want to be named for fear of potentially scaring a rich client away. “No one knows who it is. I know a few hedge fund managers around here but I couldn’t possibly disclose their names.”

The senior executive is believed to have travelled into London every day without buying a ticket, incurring a meagre £7.20 daily fine on his Oyster card by simply “tapping out” from Cannon Street station once he arrived in London, thus evading the £4,548 cost of an annual season ticket.

The canny commuter avoided detection from 2008 until the end of last year and has since repaid £42,550 in missing fares and £450 in legal costs.

He asked to remain anonymous in order to protect his highflying career – leaving Stonegate, one hour and 20 minutes away from the capital by rail, wondering which of its affluent commuters is to blame.

At a farm shop down the road from the station – which sells delicacies such as camel burgers, Zebra meat and goose eggs to cater for wealthy customers in a village where the average house price is £500,000 – Lucy Enville, 78, said she’d love to find out who the hustler was.

“I’ve lived here for nearly 30 years and I’ve never heard anything like it,” she said. “He must be a wealthy kind of chap if he lives around here. We’ve had lots if people asking but no one knows who it is. It’s hot gossip at the moment.”

In the nearby village of Ticehurst, a local barman, who also wanted to remain anonymous for fear of offending his customers, told The Independent he had his suspicions about a man who used to drink regularly at the pub. “That geezer that’s been dodging the fares?” he asked. “Yeah, there used to be a guy who drank in here, a sketchy fella he was. It could have been him.”

A waitress at the same pub told the paper she thought it was the fault of Southeastern trains, saying the rail company should have been “more on the ball”.

“It serves them right,” she said. “How did he get away with it for five years? It puts the rail system to shame.”

A spokesman for the local parish council, however, accused the commuter of “getting a kick” out of dodging fares.

Even if he remains anonymous forever, at least the villagers have enjoyed the mystery. A man walking his dog along a deserted country lane said in hushed tones that he might “know a man, who knows a man”, before winking knowingly and promising to keep us informed.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence