Machine vandalised

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A MAN who believed he was doing a public service after vandals had attacked a train ticket machine with chewing gum found himself in court for criminal damage last Thursday.

Alan Howard Jackson, 58, of Gracious Street, Knaresborough pleaded guilty before Harrogate magistrates to two damage charges, which occurred on April 6 and June 7 and denied two more, from April 23 and July 19, and they were dropped.

Prosecutor Steven Ovenden said Jackson’s actions had twice put the only ticket machine at Knaresborough railway station out of commission. He had been arrested after a watch was kept on the machine.

He had been seen to put an old train ticket into the machine’s credit card slot, causing a jam and meaning that until someone ignored a red out-of-action light, the machine remained inoperative. It cleared if a credit card was inserted.

Mr Ovenden said when British Transport Police interviewed Jackson he told them he had been doing a public service after children had put gum and other items in the machine.

In mitigation Geoffrey Rogers said Jackson used Knaresborough station regularly and had complained on one or two occasions about gum in the machine, but nothing had been done.

‘‘So he decided to remedy the situation,’’ said Mr Rogers. Using an old ticket got rid of the blockage. When someone put a credit card in the machine it was operable again and Jackson’s ticket came out.

Mr Rogers said he had thought long and hard as to whether Jackson’s actions had constituted criminal damage, but on the basis of a temporary loss of usefulness of the machine, he had advised the two guilty pleas.

But there had been no deliberate intent or malice in Jackson’s actions and he had no grievance towards Northern Rail. He estimated about 85 per cent of passengers from Knaresborough paid on the train.

Jackson was conditionally discharged for six months with £85 costs.