Bus driver cleared of pocketing fares himself

Initially accused of cancelling tickets and pocketing the fare himself, the driver has since been cleared of all wrongdoing

A bus driver with former public transport operator Arriva has been cleared of misappropriation after he was accused of tampering with the ticketing system.

This after Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit ruled that the witness testimony in the case was against 42 year-old George Ebejer was inconclusive.

Ebejer had been accused of fraudulently cancelling tickets and pocketing the fares himself.

But the court observed that documents presented by the prosecution did not agree amongst themselves on the dates the alleged offence had taken place on. The documents mentioned dates in 2011 whilst the charges specified dates between December 2012 and February 2013.

The court pointed out that the documents presented did not make any reference to Ebejer. One witness had testified that a PIN number belonging to the accused was used to cancel tickets, but the court held that this alone was not sufficient to convince it of the man’s guilt.

Ebejer had worked with Arriva from June 2011 to March 2013, when he was fired on a disciplinary matter. He had admitted to sometimes cancelling tickets when these were issued incorrectly and had sometimes done so with multiple tickets because of a fault in the machine, but said that only one ticket would be cancelled and the others would be paid for by the driver.

He denied owing money to Arriva, claiming that to the contrary, the company owed him €350 in excess deposits.

He had previously settled an outstanding debt of €1400 which he owed to Arriva for money which had not been deposited in 2011, he said.

Ebejer also denied cancelling any tickets between December 2012 and February 2013, saying that the large number of cancellations using his PIN number could have been an attempt at constructive dismissal. The driver said he had drawn the ire of his employer when he refused to drive a defective bus. Had they really wanted to check who was cancelling the tickets, they could have looked at the buses’ on-board CCTV systems, Ebejer insisted.

The court cleared him of all wrongdoing.

Lawyers Andy Ellul and Ryan Ellul appeared for Ebejer. Inspector Sean Scicluna prosecuted.