A man has been jailed for four months after threatening behaviour, aggravated by homophobia, on the railway in North Wales, following a British Transport Police (BTP) investigation.
Lee Paul Thomas, 42, and of Leighton Court, Flintshire was found guilty of two public order offences and was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison at Llandudno Magistrates’ Court on 27 September.
The first incident took place on 3 December 2020 at Llandudno railway station. The court heard how a member of rail staff was checking passengers’ tickets, when Thomas barged past them. The member of staff asked for his ticket, to which Thomas offered to purchase one.
Thomas went to the ticket office and attempted to purchase a ticket from Abergele. The member of staff, who had been on the train, challenged Thomas as they knew he didn’t board the service at this stop.
Thomas then tried to purchase a ticket from Rhyl, but the member of staff challenged him again, as there are ticket barriers at this station. The member of staff told Thomas they knew he had boarded the service at Shotton and that he needed to purchase a ticket from there.
Thomas became aggressive towards the member of staff, clenching his fists and gritting his teeth. Thomas accused the member of staff of “harassing” him. He was pacing up and down and called the member of staff a “lesbian” and implied they needed to be with a man.
BTP were informed of the incident later that day and CCTV images of the suspect were retrieved and circulated to officers.
On 16 January 2021, BTP officers were conducting a train patrol from Colwyn Bay towards Rhyl, when they encountered Thomas. Recognising him from the CCTV images, they approached him.
Thomas misunderstood what the officers were saying and accused them of calling him “queer”. Thomas shouted, “are you calling me queer” and “do I look like I’m gay”.
After attempts to persuade, advise and warn Thomas of his behaviour, he continued shouting and was removed from the train at Rhyl.
Investigating Officer Jack Payton said: “This type of threatening behaviour will absolutely not be tolerated on the railway and we are grateful to the courts for the sentence imposed.
“We are committed to tackling hate crime and encourage anyone who experiences this type of behaviour to report it.
“If you experience any issues on the railway, you can text BTP discreetly on 61016 or call 0800 40 50 40.”