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Put your feet on a train seat and get a criminal record

UK Daily Mail | May 30, 2007 
JAMES TOZER

A commuter who put his feet on a seat during his train journey home has been prosecuted in a clampdown on antisocial behaviour.

Babiker Fadol was spotted by a security patrol after stretching out his legs and dozing off.

He was ordered to attend court under a 120-year-old bye-law which makes it a criminal offence "to interfere with the comfort or convenience" of fellow passengers.

He pleaded guilty and was given a one-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay £50 costs. This means he now has a criminal record.

Yesterday, the 45-year-old declared that his prosecution was a waste of money and said the courts should concentrate on tackling more serious crimes.

He said: "I am not happy about it. It is wasting the court's time, my time and taxpayers' money.

"Putting your feet on the seat is a bad habit but it's the least of the problems on trains. They should focus on real crimes."

But train operator Merseyrail - the only company to deal so strongly with passengers who put their feet on seats - said several passengers had been prosecuted for antisocial behaviour, including smoking in carriages.

A spokesman said: "We are tackling things that aren't the crimes of the century but which irritate the 99.9 per cent of passengers who find such behaviour unacceptable.

"We've reduced incidents such as robberies and assaults on our trains by 60 per cent and we're now tackling lower-level troublemakers.

"Passengers are informed whenever our security teams are on board their train, and if they choose to continue to behave in an unacceptable manner they will be dealt with accordingly."

Fadol was caught by security officials who were using headmounted filming equipment to record the incident, while his train home to Chester was at the station in nearby Capenhurst on March 29.

He took his feet off the seat when asked to, but was still given a court summons.

He appeared at Chester Magistrates' Court charged under the 1889 Railway Regulations Act with behaving in a disorderly, indecent or offensive manner that interfered with the comfort or convenience of a person on the railway.

His solicitor Erwin Bamforth told the court: "It's absolute nonsense. He did no harm and when he was asked to put his feet down he co-operated.

"Now he finds himself with a criminal conviction for the first time. He didn't appreciate it was an offence."

In February last year builder Rudolph Mills, 39, was arrested when he put his feet on a bench at Cambridge station.

Mr Mills, from North London, was taken to court accused of soiling railway property and preventing other rail users from sitting on the bench in contravention of railway bye-laws.

However, the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case.

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