Shop-keeper hanged himself for not being able to pay a huge electricity bill
Anthony Waters, 48-year-old man, a shopkeeper facing energy bills of £5,000, took his own life after three “British Gas staffs” arrived at his shop to cut off his electric power supply, around 9am on July 22, 2014. They got to the shop and demanded that he pay his £5,000 debt, else they would cut him off.Anthony was serving customers at his family mini market when the three men came in and put him on the spot, with a warrant saying his shop was going to be “de-energised.” He desperately promised that he could raise £1,000, but one of the three gasmen said it was not enough. He then plunged the store into darkness after ignoring threats from Mr Waters that he would commit suicide. A short time later, as the workmen called police from outside to alert them to Mr Waters’ distress, he closed the shop and hanged himself in a stock room.
David Pickard, one of the men from the British Gas told the inquest in Bradford:
I went into the shop and Mr Waters was serving customers. He confirmed he was Anthony Waters. I tried to explain why I was there but it was difficult because he was trying to serve customers. We began to talk inside the shop. I explained why we were there – if he did not pay there was a warrant and his supply would be de-energised.
I spoke to a lady who had access to the computer and she confirmed that the debt was still outstanding. They give the final say on whether we de-energise or walk away. She confirmed we had to de-energise if the debt was not paid in full.
He began to talk to them and then he handed the phone to me. I think he rang a close friend or relative to get money. He said he could get about £1,000 but I said that was not enough.
Recording a verdict of suicide Bradford Coroner Oliver Long staff said:
There is considerable evidence in my mind that Anthony Waters was under a considerable amount of stress with the financial difficulties of the business.
After the case Leonie Edwards of British Gas said:
We were very saddened by the death of Mr Waters and we would like to express our sincere sympathies to his family. British Gas employees followed our established procedures and contacted the police when they were onsite and stayed there until they arrived.
Mr Waters’ father, Keith, 87, said: “I think Anthony felt he had let us down. He was pushed to the point of desperation by a big corporation bullying him because it couldn’t give a bit of leeway to a single man struggling and he was pushed over the edge. I think it is disgusting.
I’m sure they could have arranged for another payment scheme if things were getting that bad. I don’t understand why did British Gas had to send three men to his shop without any warning. It was a bit heavy-handed and these companies forget the human side of things. Where is their humanity? Since they switched off the electricity we have had row upon row of stock going to waste and to add insult to injury we’ve had two break-ins because the burglar alarm was rendered useless when the electricity was cut off. I know it must have been difficult for those three British Gas men and they were only doing their job but when Anthony said the words he did and stated his intention why did no one take heed. Is money worth as much as a life?
Posted on September 30, 2014, in crime, Europe, latest news and tagged Anthony Waters, Bradford Coroner Oliver, British Gas, customers, de-energised, debt, desperate, electricity bill, Leonie Edwards, mini market, power supply, Shopkeeper, staffs, suicide, UK. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.