PF v Peter Fitzpatrick, James McFeeley, and Mark Phillips

At Kilmarnock Sheriff Court Sheriff Brian Murphy sentenced each of the accused to 6 months imprisonment after they were found guilty of fraud.

On sentencing Sheriff Murphy made the following statement in court:

“Free concessionary bus travel for those over 60, or those with a disability, is a much valued scheme, allowing social mobility, and providing a life line to many.

The scheme is, however, increasingly costly to maintain, and whilst the vast majority of bus operators operate quite properly within the rules of the scheme, what this trial disclosed was the persistent involvement in fraud and misuse of that scheme.

Over a 10 month period you used a number of lost bus passes to create fictional journeys, indeed, sometimes you would use the same bus pass daily over and over again.  It is clear that this was organised, and a practice carried out by all 3 of you over many months, with a view to unlawfully maximising the financial returns your employer received from Transport Scotland. 

The Appeal Court has laid down clear guidance in cases involving fraud.

In my view, every time you scanned these bus passes, you knew you were doing wrong, and the fact that you did it repeatedly, and on such a scale, adds a further dimension.

I have considered carefully whether a non-custodial option could be imposed.  I have also considered the terms of the Criminal Justice Social Work Report, and the mitigatory factors which have been advance on your behalf. 

In my view only a custodial sentence is appropriate given the details of this fraudulent scheme which has emerged over some 10 days of trial during which you have maintained your denial of guilt, and in so doing, showed no contrition or remorse.

The fact that Transport Scotland were able to recoup their losses in subsequent months was not attributable to your actions, but to painstaking, and no doubt, costly analysis of their audit department.

What you did was a concerted and repeated fraud involving tax payer’s money, and is not to be treated lightly.

I have accordingly decided that each of you should serve a period of 6 months imprisonment”.