GALLERY: Letchworth hoarder cleans up his act after judge gives him two-week ultimatum

Wilfred James cleaning his home

Wilfred James cleaning his home - Credit: Archant

A hoarder who was given a two-week ultimatum to clear his flat or face eviction says he feels powerless, despite cleaning up his act.

Wilfred James is his Letchworth home before the clean-up operation

Wilfred James is his Letchworth home before the clean-up operation - Credit: Archant

Wilfred James, of Jarden in Letchworth, was due to be evicted on September 18 by his landlord North Hertfordshire Homes as a result of the fire risk his collecting poses.

The 78-year-old, who collects computers, books and magazines, has lived in the flat for 50 years and was handed a two-week reprieve by a judge at Luton Crown Court two days before his eviction.

Since then he has tidied up his flat with help of professional cleaners supplied by social services and is due to return to Stevenage Magistrates’ Court – where he was given an eviction order – to hear his fate next week.

Mr James, who admits his collecting got out of hand after his partner of 31 years Jacqui Surtees died in 2005, said: “I’m hoping I can stay here. It’s all that I want.

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“With the help of the cleaners I’ve managed to clear a lot of the junk but I still feel that I have no control over what is happening to me.

“I went along with what the judge said because I believe the person that doesn’t bend breaks.

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“But now I feel helpless and useless. This ordeal has ruined my life and I can’t say that I feel happy even though my flat’s tidier. I feel like a criminal who has been granted a stay of execution.”

Victoria Hisgrove, director of operations at NHH, said: “We have decided to pursue an eviction in this particular case, because of the likelihood of future fire risk and Mr James’ threatening behaviour toward our staff. There is a court injunction in place that prevents Mr James interacting with our staff or visiting our offices due to his threatening behaviour and we have also to consider the disruption this has caused to the management of repairs and staff visits to other properties in the flat block.

“If the judge rules that the possession order should be suspended for another period of time then we will try to secure some terms within the suspension that help us manage the tenancy – agreement to regular visits to check the condition of the property for example, possibly with a third party in attendance. Mr James will need to work out the best way to comply and manage his tenancy moving forwards. We will continue to work with the agencies supporting Mr James.”

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