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NO COUNCIL HOUSE FOR EVICTED WOMAN RULED 'INTENTIONALLY HOMELESS'

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A tragic young mother who was twice raped as a teenager and has attempted suicide today failed in an Appeal Court b...
A tragic young mother who was twice raped as a teenager and has attempted suicide today failed in an Appeal Court bid for a council house.

Senior judge, Lord Justice Ward, said he had 'some sympathy for this unhappy young lady' - but dismissed her challenge to Lewisham LBC's refusal to review her claim for housing.

The judge, sitting in the Appeal Court with Lord Justice Waller and Lord Justice Dyson, told a harrowing tale of the mother's tragedy-struck life.

She had been forced to have sex by her boyfriend when aged only 15 and that 'traumatic event' was compounded a year later when she was brutally raped in her parents' home by a 'so-called family friend'.

Stricken by depression, she attempted to end it all by taking a paracetomol overdose in 1996, the judge added. She eventually left home and the council granted her a council house in 1997.

The following year she met a young man, hoping their relationship would be a stable one. But she was left 'very distressed' when he upped and left her after she fell pregnant. Now in her 20s, she had a baby in September 1999.

By this time rent arrears were building up; she could not pay utility bills and was in debt from catalogue shopping. She failed to make claims for income support or housing benefit and was finally evicted in April 2000.

She applied to the council for rehousing, but Lewisham refused in January 2001. Although the council accepted she was in 'priority need', it said she was 'intentionally homeless' due to her earlier eviction.

It was not until July 2001 - well outside the statutory time limit - that she asked the council to review its decision in the light of fresh medical evidence relating to her psychiatric condition.

The council refused to do so and that decision was later backed as legally sound by the High Court and again, now, by the Court of Appeal.

Lord Justice Ward ruled: 'We all have some sympathy for this unhappy young lady but we are bound to dismiss her appeal.'

However, holding out some hope for the future, the judge added that so much time had now passed since she was declared intentionally homeless 'she may now perhaps be able to make a fresh application for assistance based upon her present circumstances.'

'That, of course, is a matter between her and the housing department.'

STRAND NEWS SERVICE

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