Parents-to-be still fighting for rights to West Hampstead home

A West Hampstead couple whose house was overtaken by squatters just two days after they bought it –and days before their first baby was due to be born – is still fighting a court case to reclaim the property.

Consultant neurologist Dr Oliver Cockerell and his wife Kaltun are preoccupied by the legal fight and unable to concentrate on the arrival of their child, who is eight days overdue.

The fed-up couple has also been forced to look after the squatters’ abandoned possessions left in their property in Burrard Road. If they refuse, Dr Cockerell could be liable for their value and be forced to pay the squatters.

They are also paying thousands of pounds for security and redecorating jobs in a desperate bid to be ready for the arrival of their baby.

Dr Cockerell said: “Not only am I paying for a barrister – because the court case is still not over and technically the squatters could claim back possession – but I now have to redecorate the entire house.

“The carpets were lovely and new and cream and now they are blackened. But the worst thing about them is the smell. It is unbelievable – of booze and fags and possibly something even more unpleasant.”

Eleven squatters moved into the house on August 25 and finally left last Wednesday (September 7) after a judge served an eviction order.

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They left three old televisions, four soiled mattresses and a “smelly parka” cluttering the house, which is now lived-in and protected by 24-hour security.

Dr Cockerell’s sister was due to attend court today on his behalf to secure a permanent order that will remove the squatters rights. Until then the squatters can legally stake a claim to it.

The Cockerell’s will not be able to attend court as they have a scheduled late-labour appointment at the hospital, where financial adviser Kaltun may have her baby induced.

“There is no sign of the little bugger yet!” Dr Cockerell told the Ham&High, maintaining a sense of humour despite the ordeal. “But it must be the size of an elephant by now – so my wife is rather preoccupied.”