Fury as dad ‘facing prison’ after fine over £2.70 train ticket

Birmingham: Dad 'facing prison' after fine over £2.70 train ticket

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Panashe Chidakwa, 24, was fined £257 at court over a fraudulent £2.70 ticket for a five-minute journey. Panashe will have to “sacrifice” food, rent, bills or the nursery fees for his three-year-old son to be able to fork out the compensation, costs and the penalty.

Struggling during the pandemic and with rising living costs, the father of one had added a railcard to discount his journey fare in January when he went to a butchers.

But when an inspector checked his ticket, they found Panashe didn’t have a railcard and he was hauled before JPs at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court.

Speaking today to Birmingham Live, Panashe said: “These heartless people are throwing big amounts to people like me who are struggling with money it doesn’t make sense and the worst part is I will probably be looking at prison time over a £2.70 train ticket.

“They were saying the train ticket I bought was fraudulent. I did say I would pay back the money.

“When I was in court it happened so quickly. I was just standing there and they were telling me the process. I said: ‘Listen I’m already behind on bills, if you look at my credit score it’s not good – we’ve just come from lockdown.

“I would have thought they would understand people’s situations. They just threw numbers at me as if I was some rich person.”

Panashe, a kitchen assistant on minimum wage, continued: “I was basically going to work for free. I was struggling on minimum wage.

“I tried to ask the court ‘what if I can’t pay for it because this year I’m struggling?’

“They said: ‘You’re probably looking at jail’. It’s ridiculous.

“I will probably sacrifice rent or electricity. I’m already £3,000 behind. Then there are other bills, travel expenses and nursery fees for my son are £52 a day. There will be something I will sacrifice, my phone might get cut off.

“It’s too much for me right now. People said when you grow up life is going to be hard – but I never expected it to be this hard.

“I’m just giving money away for free, that’s what it feels like.”

The court will need Panashe, of Longbridge, Birmingham, to pay £257 by June 6.

Asked his advice for anyone trying to dodge fares amid the cost of living crisis, he added: “Just pay for your full ticket. Don’t add a railcard or something you don’t have because you don’t want to have to pay 10 times the price; this is something I never expected to happen to me.”

The judicial press office said it could not comment on individual cases.

A spokeswoman said: “In regards to sentencing, judges and magistrates sentence according to the facts of the case, which may have aggravating or mitigating factors and the sentencing guidelines which are set by the independent Sentencing Council and the law which is set by parliament.”

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