Drug addict tenants do £30k of damage

A COUPLE who rented out their home in Worksop were left with a repair bill of almost £30,000 after a drug addict tenant and her boyfriend removed every scrap of metal - ‘ripping the heart’ out of the house.

“The house was not so much stripped as disembowelled,” said Jonathan Straw, prosecuting at Nottingham Crown Court

A hole had been made in the kitchen ceiling to remove all the central heating pipes at the house in Keswick Road.

Floorboards were ripped up, the boiler was stripped of metal, the electric shower was gone and taps taken.

Electrical cable had been removed and stripped down to bare metal in bonfires in the garden.

The tenant Susan Barton, 38, was jailed for two years on Monday 21st May.

Her boyfriend of 14 years and fellow drug addict Michael Milnthorp, 34, was given three years and six months.

He had not pleaded guilty as early as she had. He also had another offence of going equipped for burglary while on bail for the theft and criminal damage, which they both admitted.

“It was not just theft, it was targeted, spiteful vandalism and wrecking of this house,” said the judge Recorder Martin Jackson.

Householder Mercy Oppareadio, who lived there with her husband Victor, had moved to another part of the country to work as a nurse, the court heard.

“Because of the depressed nature of the market they decided to let the semi rather than sell,” said Mr Straw.

A financial adviser put them onto Barton, who agreed a six months’ tenancy at £425 per month.

The benefits agency paid £323 of the sum, with Barton expected to top up the rest but she paid nothing, the court was told.

The owner did not object when Milnthorp started living there. But four months later in May last year when the owner wanted to inspect her property, she was unable to contact Barton.

The financial adviser put a note through the door giving 24 hours notice of an inspection. He later entered the house to find it dirty, with syringes and drug paraphernalia inside.

On 14th June, an eviction notice was posted and on 15th July the owner visited to find her house in a ‘terrible state,’ said Mr Straw.

Bonfires had started soon after the tenancy began, said neighbours, and there had been 10-12 fires in the week before Barton and Milnthorp left.

They had received just £260 from a scrap dealer.

Barton’s barrister Gurdial Singh said: “The money went of course on drugs. The next fix is all she or anyone in her position thinks of, the next heroin bag.”

David Horne, for Milnthorp, said he had got free of drugs for a period in the past but was then made redundant and went back to drug use.

The judge told Barton the owner was an ‘ordinary, decent member of the public’ who had to move.

“She did you a favour. She was put in touch with you because you were looking for somewhere to live,” he said.

“You abused the trust she placed in you. You treated the place as a squalid tip. You ripped the heart out of her home. The effect on the couple must have been horrifying.”