An asylum-seeker who stopped a train from leaving Wigan Wallgate railway station - causing a delay worth £2,000 - has finally appeared in court after vanishing for three years.
Mohammed Tahiru was found guilty in his absence back in 2014 for the offence and a warrant for his arrest was issued by magistrates.
But the trail went cold until he was tracked down to an address in Preston earlier this week, after which the 36-year-old was hauled before justices and has now been ordered to pay compensation to Northern Rail, albeit only a 10th of the estimated costs on account of his inability to pay the full amount.
The bench at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court heard that Tahiru refused to buy a ticket at Wallgate station and boarded a passenger train travelling to Manchester in December 2013.
He had been warned by staff on several occasions that he would not be allowed to travel unless he bought a ticket first.
But the court heard that he used an expletive in telling the station manager he would “buy a ticket on the train” and later refused to get off when told by staff that he was not allowed to travel.
British Transport Police officers were called and eventually Tahiru was escorted from the jam-packed four-carriage train that, by then, had been delayed for 20 minutes.
Martin Jones, defending, told the court that the defendant had been an asylum-seeker at the time. He had said he was not fully aware of what was happening but has since accepted he had caused the delay.
Tahiru gave his address as Watling Street, Preston, although his accommodation situation was described as “fluid”.
Mr Jones said his client was “reliant on friends” and he had not been able to find work since coming to the UK in 2009, the court heard.
Tahiru was found guilty at the original court date but, due to the potential for a large fine being administered as punishment - with Northern Rail stating the delay had cost an approximate £2,000 to the service - magistrates decided he should hear the sentence in person.
After the three-year wait, the bench imposed a 12-month conditional discharge and Tahiru was ordered to pay £200 compensation. The bench said it had taken into account Tahiru had spent a night in the cells following his arrest.
Addressing the defendant, the presiding magistrate said: “You have been in this country eight years now, you must have some means of income (to pay the compensation).”