Railway yob first to be banned

AN abusive yob who terrified female rail passengers has been stopped in his tracks today after being banned from stations throughout the country.Andrew Sophocleus, 17, of Cherry Tree Road, Stowmarket, is forbidden to visit any station in England and Wales by the first antisocial behaviour order (Asbo) successfully won by the British Transport Police in this area.

AN abusive yob who terrified female rail passengers has been stopped in his tracks today after being banned from stations throughout the country.

Andrew Sophocleus, 17, of Cherry Tree Road, Stowmarket, is forbidden to visit any station in England and Wales by the first antisocial behaviour order (Asbo) successfully won by the British Transport Police in this area.

Sophocleus is barred until his application to have the ban lifted is granted by the courts.

The ban comes in the week that rail workers union the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) revealed a shocking rise in attacks on staff for the third year running.


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As Britain's biggest rail union it called for zero tolerance as assaults increased by 18 per cent in 2003.

Sophocleus pleaded guilty to a charge of threatening behaviour on an Anglia Railways train on February 3 and appeared for sentencing at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court on Monday .

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Magistrates heard that Sophocleus, formerly from Leiston, was drunk and swigging from a can of lager during his outburst.

Bob Munn, acting inspector of the BTP in Ipswich said: "We are very pleased that the court have treated this so seriously, we will not tolerate this type of loutish behaviour on the railway network.

"We will apply for similar orders whenever anyone is abusive, threatening or violent towards the travelling public or any rail staff."

John Hardwick, prosecuting, told the court that Sophocleus was travelling on the 2.15pm train from Lowestoft to Ipswich when he became abusive to other passengers.

He shouted obscenities and gesticulated at two women, one described as elderly, who were travelling to Felixstowe.

The pair were so intimidated by the thug's behaviour they got off early at Westerfield to avoid him.

But Sophocleus's abusive rant continued when he staggered towards the front of the train and approached another female passenger.

A conductor intervened but Sophocleus swore at him and threatened to "smack him one" before continuing to shout at the woman.

Sophocleus was arrested by the British Transport Police when he arrived at Ipswich station.

Ian Duckworth, mitigating, said his client had taken heroin since the age of 16 but was trying to get off it and drank to excess as a substitute.

Mr Duckworth added: "He has little or no recollection of the train journey or his behaviour. He knows there are various issues he must address and if he can stop drinking it will help him control his emotions. He needs help to try and keep a lid on it."

On sentencing Sophocleus, magistrates said the Asbo was for the protection of other people using the railways.

Do you have a story about anti-social behaviour on the railways? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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