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Council wins legal fight to evict junkie from flat
4:11pm Wednesday 6th March 2013 in News
A heroin addict described as a ``running sore of criminal behaviour'' is to be kicked out of his council flat in Hampshire.
Councillors today won a human rights court fight with the junkie they wanted to evict from a council flat '.
Three appeal judges rejected ``persistent criminal'' Terry Miller's right-to-private-life defence and gave Fareham Borough Council the go-ahead to re-possess the one-bedroom flat in the town.
They said neighbours' lives must have been made ``intolerable'' and concluded that Mr Miller's challenge to the council's re-possession bid had no ``real prospect of success''.
And they overturned a decision by a county court judge, who had dismissed the council's claim for possession.
Mr Miller, 30, had a ``long history of persistent criminal offending'' with convictions for theft, assault and public disorder, judges were told at a Court of Appeal hearing in London.
He was also a heroin addict who had used Class A drugs for many years, judges heard.
Council officials said Mr Miller - whose rent was paid through housing benefit - had breached a tenancy agreement because there had been illegal drug use, excessive drinking, shouting, foul language and ``general rowdiness'' at the flat.
They said neighbours had complained about ``rowdy, drunken behaviour'', fights involving smashed bottles, frequent drug use - and one of Mr Miller's friends urinating from windows on to paths below in Gibralter Close.
Recorder Nicholas Wood ruled in favour of Mr Miller and dismissed the council's claim for possession of the flat following a hearing at Portsmouth County Court last August.
But Lord Justice Patten, Lady Justice Black and Lord Justice Kitchin allowed the council's appeal against the judge's decision.
Lord Justice Patten said, in a written ruling published today following a hearing last month, that there had been complaints about anti-social behaviour at the flat in 2011 and last year.
``The Recorder described the flat as having become during this period a running sore of criminal behaviour which has so upset some of the neighbours that they have requested anonymity in respect of their complaints for fear of reprisals,'' said Lord Justice Patten.
``It is clear to me that the use of the flat in this way must have made their lives intolerable.'' Judges analysed aspects of the European Convention on Human Rights and the UK Human Rights Act.
They said Mr Miller had raised an ``Article 8 defence'' - the convention article which protects people's rights to private, family and home life.
Mr Miller based the argument on his ``vulnerability as an ex-offender and drug addict'' and on his ``exploitation'' by others - and said he was ``not responsible'' for what had occurred at the flat.
But appeal judges ruled against him.
``This is not a case where service of the notice to quit and the claim for possession have been motivated by purely administrative considerations,'' said Lord Justice Patten.
``The decision to seek possession is driven by the need to control the effect on neighbours of what has occurred at the flat.''
Lord Justice Patten said he could not see how Mr Miller's human rights challenge had ``any real prospect of success''.
Lady Justice Black and Lord Justice Kitchin said they agreed.