- Grandfather Tom Crawford, 64, fighting lenders over unpaid mortgage
- Gained huge following after putting pleading video on YouTube last July
- Gang of hundreds of strangers have twice kept bailiffs from his doors
- Group turned up at court on Friday as judge due to give eviction verdict
- Judge said he will now give verdict via email after fears of starting a riot
A judge due to rule on whether a cancer sufferer can be evicted from his home for falling behind on his mortgage will give his verdict via email after angry protesters mobbed the court.
Judge Nigel Godsmark QC has told grandfather-of-two Tom Crawford, 64, that he will receive his judgement electronically over fears that giving it in court could start a riot.
Mr Crawford has been battling the bailiffs over claims he still owes £43,000 in outstanding mortgage repayments since 2007.
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His case rose to attention last July after he posted a YouTube video begging for help after lenders threatened to evict him from his three-bedroom home in Fearn Close, Carlton, Nottinghamshire.
Around 300 strangers turned up to keep the bailiffs away, and in January this year 500 people formed a human blockade around the property where he has lived for 27 years.
On Friday Mr Crawford was again joined by hundreds of supporters when he appeared at Nottingham County Court to appeal against the possession order issued against his bungalow.
At one point, police barricaded the doors of the court to stop the noisy crowds gathered outside from bursting into the court.
Judge Godsmark twice walked out of the court room – the first time after an angry protester began shouting from the public gallery, adding ‘coward’ as he left.
He was also forced to briefly adjourn the hearing when the crowds outside began chanting noisily.
The judge was due to rule on an appeal against an earlier decision but said he would deliver his verdict in the long-running battle via email because of concerns about crowd trouble.
Judge Godsmark QC said: ‘What is happening out there is an attempt to disrupt the process.’
He added that he refused to conclude ‘if there’s the risk of serious public disorder.’
Speaking after the hearing Mr Crawford, who is recovering from prostate cancer, said: ‘We’re on a bit of a tight-rope now, not knowing which way the decision will go.
‘But we’ve given them the evidence, so I just hope justice will be done.
‘If it wasn’t for these people, they would have taken our home.
‘This support is what everyone should get. There are a lot of homes taken from people who don’t owe any money and they are railroaded by the banks.
‘Banks, whoever is involved in loaning money, has a juggernaut. And they just run over ordinary people to get their money.’
His daughter Amanda Pike, 35, added: ‘We hope we have been heard fairly. I’m still scared as to what the outcome will be, but we just really want to believe in justice.
‘But even if the case doesn’t go our way, it won’t be the end.’
His wife Susan, who works in market research, said: ‘If you can imagine trying to save your home at the same time as wanting to nurse your husband when he’s desperately ill.
‘And then trying to keep a roof over his head, it’s been a nightmare, an absolute nightmare.’
During the hearing, Mr Crawford told the court the last three years had been ‘horrendous’ for him and his wife Susan, 54, due to the battle with Bradford and Bingley.
“If it wasn’t for these people, they would have taken our home”
~~ Tom Crawford
The retired carpet fitter told the court: ‘They committed fraud against my family by changing the terms without my consent.
‘My wife and I have paid our mortgage. They changed it, I’m not responsible for paying it.’
The cancer sufferer claims he has paid off the endowment mortgage he took out in 1988 and the terms of his mortgage were changed without his knowledge.
But Bradford and Bingley said his endowment policy had lapsed due to him not making the endowment payments and that he had only been paying an interest-only mortgage.
Nicole Sandells, representing Bradford and Bingley, told the court: ‘It seems abundantly clear that they knew the (endowment) policy had lapsed and needed to put something in place to sort out how they were going to repay the capital, but they’ve never done that.
‘This is not a case where Bradford and Bingley has lost an endowment policy.
‘The bank was not asked to sort the problem out by turning it into a repayment mortgage. There was no fraud by the bank.’
Last year, a court ruled in favour of a debt recovery firm which took on the outstanding balance, and Mr Crawford was told to pay or lose his home.