Burgess Hill man speaks out after eviction

Man arrested and ecorted from a property in West Park Cresent, Burgess Hill 25.11.14'Pic Steve Robards
Man arrested and ecorted from a property in West Park Cresent, Burgess Hill 25.11.14'Pic Steve Robards

A man who assaulted two police officers when he was evicted from his Burgess Hill home has called for more Government support for those in need, as he faces Christmas sleeping rough.

Shane Wickham was forced to leave his home in West Park Crescent after a five-hour stand off with police and bailiffs last Tuesday.

Now Mr Wickham, who is known as ‘Percy’ to his friends, has spoken out about his situation in a bid for ‘justice’.

Percy was arrested for affray, and later charged by police with two counts of assault against police officers.

He was sentenced at Crawley Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty with diminished responsibility and was sentenced to a six-month conditional discharge and a fine.

“I just want to apologise to the residents of the road for any inconvenience caused,” he told the Middy.

“There was no chance of them or any one else being hurt.”

He said he had no intention of ‘blowing up’ the property.

He described the experience as ‘scary’ and said he had only ever intended to hurt himself.

“I was sitting on the porch when the police broke through my windows.

“I threw my coffee down and picked up a knife.”

He continued:“So many little things have gone wrong.

“I don’t know what the plan is for the future,” he told the Middy.

“I have been sleeping rough since.”

Bailiffs attempted to evict Percy for not paying his council tax.

He was served a bankruptcy order in 2012.

The 51-year-old said he thought the problems had been resolved after being cleared in a court case involving the Department of Work and Pensions.

“Because I got the not guilty I thought my benefits would be reinstated.

“Even when my support worker contacted them there was no mention of bankruptcy. The DWP is aware I’m disabled.”

Percy suffered a double heart attack at the age of 41, which he said meant he was unable to work.

He suffers from mental health problems and depression, diagnosed after his son was still born.

He said it was exacerbated by visits from bailiffs, who he said used to ‘shout’ through the windows.

“I don’t like claiming benefits.

“I don’t like taking advantage of people.

“If I can help someone I will. I have got no pension. That house was my retirement and my pension.

“I think that if people like myself have problems with understanding things more care in the community needs to be done.

“I can’t read or write. I couldn’t read the letters.”

Percy said he has a support worker who he can talk to about his health, but he only gets to see him occasionally.

He is now working against the clock to save his possessions before his home is repossessed to be sold at auction.

“Time is running out.

“I was given 14 days to remove my things from my house, but I can’t get in.”

Mid Sussex District Council

Percy said he has nearly paid off his mortgage. But council tax is collected through the local authority, Mid Sussex District Council.

A spokesman for Mid Sussex District Council said: “The council is aware that there was an incident in Burgess Hill involving a local resident.

“It is not appropriate for the council to comment on the detail of this matter as it is confidential; however, we can confirm that in 2012 the court served a bankruptcy order for non-payment of council tax.

“A receiver was appointed who has been dealing with the recovery of the debt since that time.

“The council is satisfied that it has acted properly and in accordance with legal requirements in relation to this case.”

Citizens Advice Bureau

With Christmas around the corner it is not unusual for people to be worried about their finances.

Advice for people worried about bankruptcy and threatened homelessness is available from the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Between July and September 2014, 203 people visited Central and South Sussex CAB about threatened homelessness and 43 about bankruptcy.

A spokeswoman for the organisation said: “If you feel that your home is, or might be, at risk, get advice as soon as you can.

“You may have a number of options to save your home – the earlier you get advice, the more options you are likely to have and the quicker you can get back in control of the situation.”

Adviceguide from Citizens Advice gives general information on whether bankruptcy will mean losing your home.

For more information visit http://www.adviceguide.org.uk.

The CAB is urging people to come forward to speak to if they are worried about any of these issues.

To find out more call Adviceline on 0344 477 1171, or visit www.centralandsouthsussexcab.org.uk. There are also centres across Mid Sussex, in Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath and East Grinstead.

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