Squatters lock heavily pregnant woman out of West Hampstead home
A doctor is calling for a change in the law after squatters locked him and his heavily pregnant wife out of their �1million West Hampstead house for two weeks.
Consultant neurologist Oliver Cockerell was forced to spend thousands of pounds on legal fees to evict 11 squatters who invaded his family’s new house just two days after they bought it.
He asked police to arrest the squatters. But he was told it was a civil matter and he had to go to court.
Officers warned him that he would be arrested if he broke in to his own property.
Dr Cockerell, 49, pleaded with the squatters to move out of the Burrard Road house after discovering on August 25 that they were living there and had changed the locks.
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He even offered them money because his wife, Kaltun, was due to give birth to their first child at any moment.
But the squatters refused, demanding even more money and forcing him to take the matter to court.
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A Central London County Court judge served an eviction notice on the squatters on Tuesday (September 6).
It stated that they must leave the house by Wednesday afternoon.
Dr Cockerell, currently living with his wife in St John’s Wood, said: “There should be a law against domestic squatting. If it was a criminal offence, we could have just got a policeman round and they would have been out.”
He said that the experience had put a tremendous strain on his wife, who was due to give birth yesterday (September 7).
“I deal with life and death all the time at work, but this is nothing compared to it,” said Dr Cockerell. “I’m so stressed and I haven’t slept since it happened.”
He said it was ludicrous that people were arrested for stealing cars or money but, if they invaded your home, the onus was on the owner to take them to court.
“If you occupy someone’s home, it should be like stealing their car,” he said.
“I’m a reasonably well paid doctor but I know lots of people, many of them pensioners, who cannot just lay their hands on a few thousand pounds.
“If you can’t do that, you simply wouldn’t be able to get your house back.”
His wife Kaltun, 35, a financial adviser, said: “We’re expecting the baby any time and this has added to the stress. How do people get away with it? You pay your taxes, work hard and try to have a family but the law is not on your side.”
When the Ham&High visited the property, one squatter said: “This isn’t a great time to talk. We’ve been scarred in the past.
‘‘You [the press] always make us out to be bad people.
“I can tell you this much. Britain is a commonwealth and squatting dates back to the Magna Carta.”