Oxford Barrister Prosecuted For '£23k Fare Dodging'

A barrister from Oxford who spent more than two years avoiding paying for his train ticket could be the ``biggest'' fare-dodger to be prosecuted, a court heard.

Peter Barnett, 43, is said to have caused a loss of £23,000 to Chiltern Railways over a two-and-a-half year period.

He travelled from his Oxford home to London Marylebone but pretended to have only travelled from Wembley, in north west London.

However, Barnett argues that he only dodged up to £9,714.40, submitting that the amount should be based on the cost of a weekly ticket, and take into account annual leave.

But prosecutor Malachy Pakenham told Westminster Magistrates' Court:

``If it is accepted that the loss was £23,000, this defendant would be convicted of the biggest rail evasion case that has come to the court in the United Kingdom.

``The Crown have reached that figure by a number of rail staff calculating it.

``The train company are experts, not me or my friend and they have calculated it on a basis that if someone commits a fraud like this defendant has committed, you are not allowed to calculate it on the basis of a weekly ticket, you calculate it on a full single fare, of the return for the day, each and every day this defendant travelled over the period without a full price rail ticket''.

Barnett admits six counts of fraud by false representation between April 2012 and November last year.

He was caught when stopped by a ticket inspector at Marylebone and claimed to have travelled from Wembley, in north west London, instead of Haddenham and Thame Parkway in Oxford.

Barnett ran off when a member of station staff became suspicious about his story and called a supervisor, but had a change of heart and later handed himself in.

During an interview with British Transport Police he confessed that he had been carrying out the scam since April 2012.

He is thought to have been boarding trains at Haddenham and Thame Parkway without a ticket, and then getting off at Marylebone by simply tapping out with an Oyster card, automatically being charged the maximum Transport for London fare.

The case was adjourned until July 27 so that a hearing can be held to determine the loss caused to Chiltern Railways.

Barnett was released on unconditional bail.

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