Fare dodger punched inspector who woke him up asking to see Metro ticket

Metro train.
Metro train.

A fare-dodging dad who punched a ticket inspector after being woken up on a Metro train has been hit with a hefty court bill.

Phillip Deere reacted with fury after being stirred from his slumber as the victim carried out a ticket inspection on a late-night service.

He is not there to be a punchbag

Alan Rhys

The 25-year-old hurled foul-mouthed abuse at the inspector and threatened to ‘knock him out’ before being told to get off as the train reached Fellgate station in Jarrow.

Deere continued his rant when he got off the train before swinging a punch at the inspector and hitting him in the face.

A colleague came to his aid and police were called while the pair struggled to restrain Deere.

Deere admitted common assault when he appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.

Magistrates were told Deere did not have a ticket and no cash to buy one.

Paul Doney, prosecuting, said: “At 10.43pm on January 6, Gareth Harper was on the train with a colleague conducting a check of passengers’ tickets. Deere was unresponsive and appeared asleep.

“Mr Harper shook him to wake him and Deere swore at him. He was asked to alight at Fellgate Metro Station to sort the issue out and said ‘I will knock you out if you touch me again’.

“He finally got off the train and swung a punch, hitting Mr Harper in the right side of the face.

Michelle Stonley, defending, said: “He accepts he punched the man once in the face. He had been at a friend’s house and had one can of lager, so was not under the influence of alcohol.

“He was nipped in the arm and said this left bruises. He says the injured party made a snide comment to him as he alighted the train and he lost his temper.

“This was not a planned, premeditated attack. He wishes to apologise through me to the injured party.”

The Metro worker said in a statement read out in court that he was “in complete shock” after being attacked in his line of work.

Alan Rhys, chairman of the magistrates, said: “A public servant was struck in the face and we take this very seriously. He is not there to be a punchbag.”

Deere, of Redwood Grove, Silksworth, Sunderland, was fined £120 and ordered to pay compensation of £75 to the victim.

He must also pay prosecution costs of £85 and a £20 victim surcharge – making for a total court bill of £300.

Paul Walker, customer services director at Metro operator DB Regio, said after the case: “We take the safety of our customers and staff very seriously and although incidents like this are rare, aggressive or abusive behaviour will not be tolerated.

“We will continue to work with the police to bring prosecutions against any person who acts in a disorderly manner on the Metro system.”