Man took his life on the eve of eviction

News story
News story

A DAD hanged himself on the day he was due to be evicted from a Wigan emergency housing scheme.

Norman Blackledge, 46, had exhausted an appeal and review procedure and had angrily told a visiting council child intervention worker: “I have had enough ... I’m going to throw myself under a train.”

But when the remark was reported to the Five Boroughs mental health crisis team by a housing officer, it didn’t take his words literally or treat the call as a formal referral, because the unemployed flagger had no history of mental health issues.

Instead, Wigan Coroner Alan Walsh was told, it suggested arranging a voluntary counselling meeting that evening which didn’t eventually take place.

A complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission found that police officers had acted properly and professionally with regard to an allegation by Mr Blackledge’s daughter that he assaulted her which they found was unsubstantiated.

However, although the coroner declined to make a formal ruling, he told the mental health professionals in court: “I believe that every telephone call to the service is effectively a referral and should be treated as such.”

The inquest heard that unknown to Mr Blackledge, the “short-term” housing scheme which was to evict him - Your Housing Association’s Tiernan Lodge - had found him a potential alternative flat via charity Green Pastures. This was due to be offered to him on the day he was found hanged.

He had earlier turned down a three-bedroomed home offered because it was “too near” where his estranged partner lived and he feared she may “put my windows in”.

A post-mortem examination established that he had only a small amount of alcohol in his blood.

His priority status to stay at Tiernan Lodge had changed a week earlier after his 12-year-old daughter left to live with her grandparents after police were called to investigate an allegation that Mr Blackledge had allegedly assaulted her.

No charges were ever given and there were no visible injuries on the girl.

He strongly denied the assault claim in a “final written message” found by police called to the scene after Tiernan Lodge housing team leader Alison Perry found his body as she attempted to deliver a letter from his solicitors Stephensons.

His father, Norman Blackledge Snr, said that his son had been banned from the family home and from speaking to his mother after the family was granted an injunction following a dispute.

But their granddaughter was a frequent visitor and they had now been made legal guardians.

Father and son had passed each other a week before in the town centre, but neither had spoken.

He said: “To my knowledge he has never harmed himself or threatened to do that or ever been treated for depression ... his death like this was a total shock.”

Council social services officer Joanne Bridson met Mr Blackledge at Tiernan Lodge the day before his death and found him angry and confrontational.

Verdict: suicide.