5th January

An interesting day!

Carrying on from yesterday the lodger again asked Lissi if she had found the keys even though as it would transpire she already had them. We decided to take advice so when we went to Aldi we sat in the carpark and Sarah phoned the Police. Although they recorded the incident they did inform us that, as I sort of suspected, she hadn’t actually committed a crime by going into our room but that it was a civil matter and could be contrary to the terms of her lodger agreement.

So we decided that we needed to know for certain if she had the keys because if she didn’t she still hadn’t told us directly that she had lost them. So we wrote her a letter informing her that it had come to our attention that she had lost the keys and that if she didn’t produce them by 10pm we would have to get the locks changed and the cost would have to come out of her deposit. The letter was given to her by Lissi.

Lissi overheard shouting coming from her room and unusually the shouting was in English so we have no idea who she was speaking to but it was so loud that it could be heard downstairs. Lissi heard her telling whoever she was speaking to that she had the keys which she had taken out of Sarah’s dressing gown pocket when she’d gone into our bedroom to look for them as we’d stolen them from her.

I’d gone out the back to feed the cats and was standing on the decking when I heard shouting. It took me a few seconds to realise that it was Sarah shouting so I dashed back inside to find a full blown row going on and Lissi on the phone to the Police. The lodger had come downstairs marched into the sitting room, grabbed Sarah by the throat and started yelling at her. I tried to calm the woman down but she just wouldn’t listen, staring at me with manic eyes and screaming at me. This went on for about 10 minutes with Lissi filming it all and in that time the lodger lashed out at Sarah twice.

The Police arrived and it turned out to be one of the officers who’d come the other night. He diffused the situation by sending the lodger to her room. Initially he was quite unhelpful and I felt he was virtually accusing us of making the situation worse – he said that in his opinion the video wouldn’t help any prosecution because it showed that we didn’t walk away. I pointed out that we had been on the phone to the Police throughout the incident and at no time was that suggested to us. I said that surely if our actions were likely to compromise their ability to make an arrest then surely we should have been told.

A discussion was then had and I think once he realised that we had a proper lodger agreement and that her actions had contravened the terms of that agreement he realised that there were grounds for us to evict the lodger. So he asked us if we wanted to press charges regarding the assault given that he would make sure she was removed from the house anyway – so we said no. He said he would give the lodger two options – either she could leave and go to a hotel with her two kids or he would have to arrest her and take her to spend the night in the cells and her two kids would have to be put into temporary foster care.

The general gist of what we then overheard was that she had chosen the latter option. We even heard the Policeman saying that she couldn’t think much of the kids if that was what she wanted to do. In the end however the council were contacted and she was found a room in an hotel somewhere in Chatham for the night. We were advised that we should prepare an eviction letter for her and that she would obviously have to come back the following day to collect her belongings but that she could only do that if there was a Police Officer present. He gave us back our keys.

One of the saddest things that happened tonight was that just before they left her daughter appeared at the front room door and in a tearful voice said “don’t tell my mum I said this but I’m so sorry”. It reduced Sarah to tears – we really liked the kids and we feel so sorry for them as they seem to spend their lives being dragged from pillar to post by their mother.

We feel really hurt by the whole situation – what seemed to be a good thing to do has just been thrown back in our faces. Sarah bent over backwards to help them, she told her about getting a NI number, applying for child benefit, she helps get the kids into schools, told them about free school meals, prescription charges and pre-payment certificates, bus passes and many other things. We bought the kids Christmas presents when the mother didn’t, took them to the emergency doctors and picked them up from the hospital. She even found the job that the lodger has been doing for the past 6 weeks which has kept her head above water.

And despite all that we have systematically had everything thrown back in our faces over the last few weeks. In the end we have felt like prisoners in our own home scared to go into rooms where the lodger was, forced to keep toilet rolls and toiletries hidden to stop her using our stuff. We have felt intimidated and now attacked by someone we have gone out of our way to help. And even after all this we now feel guilty because those poor kids face an uncertain future.

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