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
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?