LIFESTYLE

Cancer-Stricken Grandfather Saved From Bailiff's Eviction As 500 People Surround House To Protect Family

26/01/2015 10:05 GMT | Updated 26/01/2015 10:59 GMT

A cancer sufferer declared victory last week, after bailiffs who turned up to evict him were forced to retreat when 500 strangers formed a human blockade around his bungalow.

Tom Crawford, 63, has been battling the bailiffs over claims he still owes £43,000 in outstanding mortgage repayments.

Last July more than 300 strangers successfully stopped bailiffs from turning up at his three-bedroom home in Carlton, Nottingham, after he begged for help on YouTube.

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On Friday - exactly six months after the first eviction attempt - bailiffs were forced to abandon plans to turf him out of his home where he has lived for 27 years.

It follows bailiffs serving a second eviction notice on Mr Crawford last week which ordered him to vacate his property by 10.30am on Friday.

Supporters, many donning the grandfather-of-two's trademark straw hat with the words 'I am Tom Crawford' written across it, began congregating in the road before 7am.

A white transit van and black Mercedes containing bailiffs arrived at 11am but were unable to reach the bungalow.

After a brief stand-off, the bailiffs retreated, to cheers from the 500-strong crowd who had travelled from across the country to support the Crawford family.

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Mr Crawford, who retired from fitting carpets due to ill health two years ago, said: "I am humbled by all the people here.

"There are not enough words in the English Dictionary for how I feel. There were about 350 people here last time and I think there may be more now.

"All I did was make a little video about what was happening to us and people supported it, but then they came banging on my door again seven days ago.

"They threatened my wife and we told the police but they won't do anything.

"The bailiffs didn't turn up during the last protest, so you could say they bottled it.

"What they are doing is totally unlawful, so we want the bailiffs to come so we can arrest them."

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He added: "The solicitors haven't even paid a fee to start all this stuff off. There is no order for a warrant because no judge will put his name to it.

"The bailiffs follow what they are told by the court, and the court follow what the solicitors say, and the solicitors follow what the bank is doing.

"We moved in to this house in 1988 and we have paid three times the value of the house.

"We have probably put £125,000 towards this place or something like that, I have never worked it out exactly, but why do they want more?

"There is no money left so banks are going after property because they know property is a tangible asset.

"For my wife, Sue, to get woken up at 5am by a bailiff banging on the door shouting at her is wrong.

"The bailiffs have just come along but won't show us the documents. There were huge guys inside the vans and we don't get people like that round here."

Yesterday bailiff firm UK Asset Resolution Limited confirmed they would seek legal advice on whether Mr Crawford could be arrested for breaching the court order.

But Mr Crawford, who has prostate cancer, declared he would "rather die" than move from his home.

He said: "I will never leave my home. I know I am in the right. I would rather die than leave."

He and his wife Susan, 54, took out an endowment mortgage with the now defunct Bradford and Bingley to buy the bungalow for £41,800 in 1988.

He and Susan, who works in market research, paid £300-£400 in monthly mortgage repayments and expected to own the property when the mortgage came to an end in 2013.

But he claims the bank told him 2007 that he would never pay off his mortgage because there was no record of him taking out the endowment mortgage.

He then says a bank manager assured him this was incorrect and even sent his wife champagne to apologise for the blunder.

But soon he was embroiled in a court battle over the mortgage, which he says the bank converted into an interest only loan without his knowledge.

Bradford and Bingley was nationalised in 2008 during the financial crisis with the main banking section being sold to Abbey National while existing mortgages remained in public control.

Mortgages are now collected by UK Asset Resolution Limited which was set up by the Government.