COUNTY NEWS: Pair sentenced for bogus rail compensation claims

Steven Martins and Nicole Phillips. Photo contributed by British Transport Police.
Steven Martins and Nicole Phillips. Photo contributed by British Transport Police.
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Two passengers have been sentenced for bogus compensation claims to a rail company.

Steven Martins, 49, and Nicole Phillips, 42, both from Pulborough, pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation at Highbury Magistrates Court on January 22.

An investigation by British Transport Police (BTP) found the pair had made fraudulent claims totalling more than £6,000 to Southern Rail.

Officers said the couple researched delayed trains online then submitted claims for delays, despite never travelling on the services.

Martin was handed a two year prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, ordered to pay Southern Rail compensation of £3,500 and told to undertake 180 hours unpaid work.

Phillips was sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to repay £2,600.

She was also given 120 hours unpaid work.

Both were ordered to pay £85 costs.

Speaking after the sentencing, PC Michael Stephenson said: “This was a carefully-organised and deliberate scam designed to defraud thousands of pounds from the railway industry.

“Phillips and Martins researched services that qualified for delay compensation on the internet.

“They managed to arouse suspicion after submitting an unusually large number of claims.

“CCTV was produced that clearly showed they had already made their journeys into London for work and hadn’t been anywhere near the delayed services at the time.

“This was an operation designed to defraud the railway of thousands of pounds set aside for passengers who have been genuinely inconvenienced by delays and disruption.

“Ultimately it is the travelling public who lose out through increases in fares to cover the cost of bogus claims like these.

“We hope this sends a clear message to anyone thinking of abusing the claims system in future.”

Stella Morris, head of security and revenue protection strategy for Southern Railway, said: “We welcome genuine claims for delays to journeys of 30 minutes or more.

“However, this case demonstrates that if you abuse a scheme to compensate rail passengers who are delayed, it will be treated as serious fraud and prosecuted.

“Govia Thameslink Railway worked hard with British Transport Police to uncover this fraud and will continue to highlight to them those cases where we believe that fraudulent claims are being made.”

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