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Ex-soldier claims neighbours are ‘hounding’ him out of Gorleston home

PUBLISHED: 18:30 24 January 2014

Great Yarmouth Town Hall.
Photo: Andy Darnell

Great Yarmouth Town Hall. Photo: Andy Darnell

Archant © 2011

A former soldier battling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has claimed “bullying” neighbours are hounding his young family and making their lives a misery.

What is post-traumatic stress disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition which develops after you have been involved in, or witnessed, a serious trauma such as a life-threatening assault. During the trauma you feel intense fear, helplessness or horror. In some people PTSD develops soon after the trauma. However, in some cases the symptoms first develop several months, or even years, after the trauma.

It is estimated that up to 3 in a 100 people may develop PTSD at some stage in life.

Some studies suggest PTSD develops in about:

1 in 5 firefighters, 1 in 3 teenage survivors of car crashes, 1 in 2 female rape victims, and 2 in 3 prisoners of war.

The Bosnian War veteran, who does not want to be identified for fear of retribution, moved to the Magdalen estate in Gorleston two and half years ago and says he has been “abused” ever since. The father of three, who also served in Northern Ireland, said he has no idea why his family is being targeted, but it has now got so bad he “just wants out”.

On Monday, about a dozen people held a protest outside Great Yarmouth Town Hall on behalf of the ex-Army man and called on Great Yarmouth Borough Council’s housing department to move the family. And following meetings with officers, the family has been temporarily placed in bed and breakfast accommodation.

Speaking to the Mercury, the ex-soldier said: “The problems have escalated over the years. I don’t know why it started, but it’s got to the point where we just can’t back to that house.

“I didn’t want to come to the papers - I didn’t want it to get this far, but I don’t know what else to do.

“On the one side, I am being victimised and discriminated against. On the other, I’m being made to feel like I’m stupid, like I’m making a fuss over nothing.”

The man claimed neighbours have threatened to harm him, his girlfriend and his baby, and that damage has been caused to his car.

He said they had reported the abuse “several times” and complained to the borough council at least 10 times.

The man’s partner said: “They told us to keep a diary. We filled it and handed it in and nothing happened. I don’t know if anyone even read it.”

“Every time we go to the council, it dies down a bit but it always starts up again and it always gets worse,” said the man.

“They have tried mediation but that didn’t work.”

The couple said they are willing to live anywhere in the borough or Lowestoft - they want to stay in the region because of family ties.

Following meetings with the council this week, the man has now applied to be rehomed through the council’s homeless housing option.

A spokesman for borough council declined to comment on his individual case, but the council website states that a person can be rehomed if it is found that they have no where else to live, they cannot return to a current address as a member of your family would be at risk of violence, or if it is unreasonable for you to continue to live at a current address.

The former soldier, who is unable to work because of the severe symptoms of PTSD, is in receipt of housing and disability benefits.

He and his girlfriend believe a small number of people on the Magdalen estate may be targeting the family because of his military background or because of the new car they had when they first moved in.

A spokesman for the borough council said: “The borough council, often working alongside the police, will investigate complaints in relation to tenants about alleged anti-social behaviour or crime and take action if there is evidence to do so.

“In some cases, the borough council might relocate a tenant, possibly on a temporary basis, to another property, whilst circumstances are investigated.

“This may result in a permanent move once investigations are completed, possibly involving an independent medical assessment.”

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