Squatters face legal action in house row

A WOMAN has been forced to go to court to try to get squatters and their three dogs evicted from her house.Kathleen MacKenzie moved out of her semi-detached home in Belstead Avenue, Ipswich, and put it up for sale.

By Juliette Maxam

A WOMAN has been forced to go to court to try to get squatters and their three dogs evicted from her house.

Kathleen MacKenzie moved out of her semi-detached home in Belstead Avenue, Ipswich, and put it up for sale.

But while it was empty John Hughes, 32, and Victoria Vardy, 20, moved in – without breaking in – and claimed squatters' rights.

Suffolk Constabulary has told Mrs MacKenzie that Mr Hughes and Miss Vardy have not broken any criminal law and there is nothing the police can do to get them out of the house.

Instead, Mrs MacKenzie must apply to Ipswich County Court for an eviction order, which could ultimately lead to bailiffs going to the house and taking it back on Mrs MacKenzie's behalf.

Most Read

Last night Mr Hughes claimed he and Miss Vardy were desperate and faced the choice of squatting in the house or living on the streets.

Mrs MacKenzie only wanted to comment through her solicitor, Anthony Wooding, of Kerseys Solicitors, Ipswich.

He said "We can't find a remedy in criminal law. There's no burglary or criminal damage. The police aren't able to find an obvious criminal offence so they can arrest them. So we are going to civil court to get a court order to evict them."

He said he could not comment on details of the case, which is due to be heard tomorrow .

Last night, Mr Hughes apologised to the home-owner for the "hurt" they had caused her, but said: "We just want a roof over our heads."

He said the couple were evicted from their previous home due to rent arrears, which he claimed mounted after a housing benefit misunderstanding. As a result they are classed as "intentionally homeless" by Ipswich Borough Council.

Mr Hughes said housing associations could not help as he needs a recommendation from the council to qualify, and he cannot afford a deposit and a month's rent in advance for a private landlord.

The pair had been staying with Miss Vardy's brother, but had to move out or risk jeopardising his tenancy.

Mr Hughes said he looks after Miss Vardy, who suffers psychological problems, full-time.

"What I'm asking for is some help from somewhere. We don't want to be here. We don't want to hurt these people. We just want a roof over our heads. We are not bad people. We are Christian people. I want to keep a psychologically disturbed person and three dogs off the streets," said Mr Hughes.

"If I have to leave here and I haven't got anywhere else to go I will be going to the next available house," said Mr Hughes, who said he will ask the judge to give him permission to stay in the house.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter