Woolwich man jailed for vicious train attack

A man has been jailed after assaulting a passenger as he attempted to steal a bag between Woolwich and Charlton.

Aaron Foley, 32, was sentenced to 10 years. He was seen on CCTV attacking the passenger with continual punches and kicks before throwing her in the carriage.

In court it was revealed that Foley, who lived on Kingsman Street in Woolwich had been begging on the train.

It once again raises questions of staffing across the Southeastern Metro and Thameslink network. There are no guards on trains and most stations away from central London have open barriers – if they exist at all.

Barriers open on most stations most of the time due to staffing issues.

I took the above photo myself after a drunken passenger threw a bottle at me. Despite being near the afternoon peak no staff were around.

Charlton station – no barriers and limited staffing

Even stations that have seen rapid growth have seen little change in staffing levels in recent years. TfL proposed staffing all stations from first to last train if they took over Southeastern services but former Conservative Transport Secretary Chris Grayling blocked the move.

Woolwich Dockyard station near where Foley lived. Another open station with little staffing

Just last month I again witnessed first hand the impact of no staff. A suicide attempt had blocked all trains. Not a single staff member was at the station to help passengers waiting on platforms for hours.

Victim statement

The victim of this on-board assault stated: “I have nightmares about the incident, it is a recurring nightmare. I think about it every day. Sometimes I wish I could have fought better. Why couldn’t I fight him off?

After this incident I no longer feel comfortable talking in public.”

The victim required surgery after the woman had suffered multiple injuries requiring dental surgery.

Sentencing Foley to 10 years, the Judge stated significant psychological harm had also been done and that Foley posed a serious risk of further offence.


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I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

10 thoughts on “Woolwich man jailed for vicious train attack

  • Staff wouldn’t stop such an occurrence but true it may help prevent some. Southeastern trains can be open season to do what you want especially off-peak. I contacted southeastern before about an incident with passengers causing problems and was told to text British Transport Police. Yeah, that’ll work.

    c2c have staff in the evening at all stations i’ve used, the DLR has staff on board and the tube has staff at pretty much every station. All feel far more safe. I won’t use southeastern on some lines at night.

  • Station staffing could have helped stop this particular crime happening to this poor lady on a South Eastern Train if the stations were fully staffed including the barriers at all times.

    A majority of incidents that take place on a train are carried out people that have fare dodged their way on to a train or by people under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

    All stations should be fully staffed from first to last trains 7 days a week. Whoever operates the trains or manages the stations.

    However, if TFL do take over South Eastern I hope they keep their promise to fully staff every station at all times.

    I hope the victim has managed to recover from this incident and is now able to move on with her life.

  • Southeastern are dreadful. I have never once seen ticket inspectors at Woolwich Dockyard in ten years of travel. If you see drugged up scum on the train, 9 times out of 10 they hop off there having paid not a penny. Barriers at stations would definitely stop them working the trains as they so often do. And that poor lady – my heart goes out to her. She should sue Southeastern for not providing or even encouraging a safe environment to travel in.

    • Southeastern’s inspectors tend to camp out at Greenhithe and other stations just past Dartford, easy pickings for passengers trying to use Oyster cards (knowingly or not) to get to Bluewater. I expect the profits are greater than catching the odd fare evader on trains.

      • A bit more than the odd evader. They caught nearly 200 in one night at Plumstead. But yes it does show they don’t really care about London Metro routes and that’s why devolution is needed.

  • This is why people are concerned about plans for an enclosed bridge and covered steps at Plumstead.

  • Southeastern and GTR Metro services are driver only operated,

  • That sentence is not long enough.

    Through carriage trains might help in such a situation as the victim might have been able to get away or others come to her aid.

  • I was on the train just behind this one. We were held for about 40 mins. Our driver said the police would take 30 minutes to arrive and deal with the incident. 30 minutes while a person is being beaten! That is appalling and goes to show the damage that cuts to the police have done over the last 9 years.


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