Calne man in court after rage against bedroom tax
TENANT David Best was so angry about the Government’s new bedroom tax that he threatened to burn down his flat in Calne.
The 49-year-old made the threat after being questioned by a housing association employee over unpaid rent, Chippenham magistrates were told on Thursday.
Best, of Bailey House, Foreman Street, was taken into custody after threatening to destroy his two-bedroom flat while speaking to an employee from GreenSquare over the phone on February 18.
His behaviour, which led the employee to take his threats seriously, also left him in breach of a conditional discharge imposed on May 24 last year for a house burglary.
Best, who has lived at his flat for 18 years, pleaded guilty to threatening criminal damage and was kept in custody until his appearance at North Wiltshire Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.
He was angry that the new benefit changes mean he must pay extra for his second bedroom, making it difficult to pay his rent.
Kate Prince, prosecuting, said: “He blamed the Government for putting him in arrears due to the bedroom tax.
“He argued with them and said ‘what’s the point? I’m going to burn this place down’.”
Defence solicitor Lisa Holmes said Best has no transport and very little money. He busks to make money and relies on income support of £62 a week.
She said: “He is remorseful that he exploded like he did.
“He lost his temper, he was extremely angry.
“He has been trying to obtain a one-bed flat because he’s in a two-bed property, hence the arrears.
“He was kept in custody by the custody sergeant for his safety, but he’s very calm and compliant now. He has stated that there’s no issue for him to return to his accommodation.”
District Judge Simon Cooper said: “You have a long list of previous offences across a wide spectrum, mostly at low-level but not all.
“You have been subject to a variety of court sentences which ultimately have not led you to control your temper.
“Your temper has got you into trouble before and your temper nearly lost you the roof over your head.”
Best has been released on unconditional bail while a pre-sentence report is prepared and will return to North Wiltshire Magistrates’ Court on March 13.
Tom Chapman, GreenSquare’s customer manager, said: “GreenSquare takes anti-social behaviour very seriously and threats of violence towards our staff will not be tolerated.
“We actively work with residents in an attempt to resolve issues before they escalate and, in this case, we will be working closely with Mr Best to provide him with access to the support that he needs.”