SENTENCED FOR STEALING Sonia's Home
The thieves Darren Baseley and Stewart Gregory have now been sentenced at Exeter Crown Court on Friday 2nd July 2021.
Darren Baseley to 20 months custody
Stewart Gregory to 22 month custody
May I thank all those wonderful PHOJC members who have supported me over almost four years. Both you and I know who you are and I will never be able to thank you enough.
It has been one hell of a journey and I have been unable to comment throughout this period but to now finalise this epic I have copied below “My Victim’s Impact Statement” - which I read out in court prior to the sentencing.
Hopefully it may go some way in helping any other park home residents who are fighting their own personal battle and perhaps show that even through fear and loss you really can win through.
In the words of Winston Churchill.
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” and “Never, never, never give up.”
Victim Impact Statement of Sonia McColl
The impact from the theft of my home has dominated, changed and consumed every part of my existence for the last three years. My life being the only thing that is truly mine. Fear, loss, anger and stress have been my constant day and night companions – but these are only words – you have to experience this to know how it truly feels.
My initial stress was indescribable; a mixture of shock, horror at my situation and a numbness (where my mind almost refused to accept what I was being told.) As a widow, I felt desperately alone, helpless and very very vulnerable. I really did not know what I could do to make things better as everything I had worked all my life for was gone and I could not buy another home.
I could not even claim insurance because the home was only insured whilst being transported and on the trailer. It was not insured when removed from the trailer; therefore, my loss is a total loss that I was not responsible for and I had no way to recover from it. When I asked Darren Baseley why it was taken off the trailer, he replied “what and get our trailer nicked.” Needless to say, I felt physically sick.
Fear is very deep rooted in my everyday life. This was brought about by the words of the thief, Darren Baseley, to my daughter, when he said in relation to the theft “Your mother walked all over the site owners and she deserves this.” He also said that he knew two of the site owners who belonged to the traveller community; and that he had telephone numbers relating to individuals. In addition, he admitted reading all about me on google.
As founder of the Park Home Owners Justice Campaign that changed the law to stop sale blocking and legally prevented site owners from stealing the equity of park home residents; I was now 100% sure that the theft of my home was pay-back and I was fearful because I had seen the outcome of the wicked things that site owners would do to residents.
I was asked by the Police to accompany them to The Glen in Bromsgrove and speak to the media on behalf of the residents who were too fearful of retribution from known criminal site owners who had burnt down their homes. From the time that Darren Baseley made his statement regarding his connection with the traveller community, I have never felt safe again and am always looking over my shoulder.
I knew that by trying to get justice for myself, the family who were temporarily housing me feared retribution to their home because those who were arrested knew of their address. The Police even arranged for protection people to talk to both them and me – but kind as they were to shelter me, I knew I had to leave because I could not inflict any form of retribution upon them or their home – but I had nowhere to go.
For over a year I was homeless, reliant on the goodwill of family, friends, B & Bs and park home residents around our country who offered me a bed. I only had my small car and would often sit in it watching the lights in other people’s houses; knowing my car was the only refuge I owned.
Always while driving, I look in the mirror and if I think I am being followed, my heart races, and I turn into a side street. No one should have to live like this and many times, when being interviewed by the media, I worried about the retribution it would bring – but if I did nothing, the thieves would get away with it; so, I carried on, moved to another county and tried to get on to a housing register.
Not easy, if you are not already a resident as every door is blocked and all the time my feelings of hopelessness and vulnerability grew. Certainly, the mental cruelty of impending danger is a fear that changes you and I know that will stay with me forever if I continue to live in the UK.
When they stole my home, they stripped me of everything except my life. My refuge, my safety, my privacy, my bed (where I could sleep) my cooker (where I could feed myself) my toilet, my ability to wash in private, my relaxation in my chair, my TV entertainment, a place to hang my clothes and a door to close that would help to keep me safe.
All that I had worked for was stolen from me; which of course meant the inheritance of the value of my home (when sited) that I wanted to leave to my children.
Although I was sure my home was stolen as payback for my work in the Justice campaign, I was determined they would not take my self-respect and make me so frightened that I would close down the Justice Campaign or the Park-HELP-Line that I run. But to protect myself I changed my name by deed poll. It was very painful to reject my late husband’s name, but for my safety I knew that it had to be done. Since then, I have led a double life. Running the Justice Campaign and Park-HELP-line under my original name and living daily as someone else.
After many months, while having breakfast in an early morning café; I received a telephone call saying that I was being offered a place to live. It is impossible to tell you how wonderful that call sounded and for the first time since my life was ripped apart, I felt excited. Sadly, my fear of being found has made me exclude myself from the electoral register, have a withheld telephone number and remain as anonymous as I can. This in turn has meant that I have been unable to even share my new name and address with friends (which has led to a certain amount of isolation.)
Attempts to find me have been aimed at my face-book page, ebay account, linked-in and equifax have reported that attempts were made to steal my identity and take loans out in my name. These instances continue to add fear to my life.
However, I now have a rented roof over my head. It is not mine to own and is a situation that I never wanted to be in and I have nothing to leave to my children – but I am grateful to have a door with a lock, bolt and chain to close on the world and anyone that might hurt me. I have coded locks on the gate to the garden and I have also had security cameras fitted so that I can see who is at the door or approaching the home – but in all honesty, I can’t really imagine how I will ever truly feel safe again.
Along with insult, that is what those thieves have done to me and they have shown no remorse whatsoever. I have done nothing to them but they have profited from what they have done to me. They know where my home is. They know to whom they sold it and who is living in it. They have stolen from me and stolen my family’s inheritance – and that is not a 30.000 home because for me to replace it would cost in excess of 60,000 and once sited on the private land it would be worth a minimum of 160.000.
I believe I am at liberty, your honor, to offer my viewpoint on a sentence. In my humble opinion, as the injured party, they both need to be put away for a long time to reflect at length on the misery their greed has caused
The regional CPS Crown Prosecution Service threw my case out initially. I appealed – as was my right. The supervisor of the original officer threw it out again. Many individuals might not know that you can in fact appeal to the CPS in London. I did this and low and behold it passed the two tests. One being the evidential test and two being in the public interest. I tell you this because if you know you are right, NEVER, NEVER, GIVE UP. Had I accepted the first CPS decision; these two thieves would still be walking about. Laughing all the way to the bank; no doubt thinking how clever they had been and putting two fingers up at me, the Police and the Law.
For all that has been thrown at me - I could not be happier now. I am stronger. I have learned a great deal and have succeeded in what I set out to do and they have lost their freedom. If my story helps just one person to fight for their rights. Then the outcome of the trial will be doubly worthwhile.
My best wishes and thanks to you all. I will continue to keep you updated on the 10% Commission Charge and RPI to CPI that you have all fought for.