Wronged claimant who took axe to Job Centre needed medical help, not a suspended sentence and a fine

Here’s a man who was driven beyond his capacity to cope with the DWP’s irrational behaviour towards him – so he reacted in a similarly irrational way.

In the belief – probably quite right – that Job Centre staff were holding an axe to his neck, he decided to take one to their office and see how they liked it.

It wasn’t right – but it is perfectly understandable.

He is another member of the ever-growing army comprising people who have been classed as “fit for work” by the DWP, even though his medical record quite clearly states the opposite.

His entire income had been cut off for seven weeks by the time of the incident in question, and he had been forced to sell his possessions in order to survive.

This Blog reported on his story here.

Is it any wonder he snapped?

He is exactly the sort of person researchers from Oxford and Liverpool universities have been discussing in today’s (November 17) report on the increase of mental illness in people who have taken the work capability assessment.

Here’s the story:

Philip Heath, of Camborne, who pleaded guilty to possessing a bladed article – a three-foot axe – in a public place, was handed a suspended prison sentence for what [magistrates’ chairman] Mr C Spettigue described as a “very serious offence with a huge potential for harm”. His actions, said Mr Spettigue, had been “premeditated to convey fear”. A charge of affray was withdrawn.

Alex Passman, for the prosecution, said that PCSO Tildesley was on foot patrol at the rear of the Wilkinsons store at 2.50pm on October 23 when he saw Heath in Lemons Court holding the axe downwards and “glaring into the job centre”.

A member of the public shouted to the officer, who ran down the steps and put his hand on the axe, telling Heath to hand it over.

Heath swore in reference to the job centre, saying he had the axe because he hadn’t received any benefit money for several weeks.

PCSO Tildesley grabbed the axe and eventually disarmed Heath who kept coming at the officer and trying to get the axe back.

The PCSO then restrained Heath on the ground with the help of two security guards and when other officers arrived they assisted. An ambulance was called as Heath was complaining of chest pains.

Nicola Chandler, for the defence, said that Heath was “truly sorry”.

He was a proud man who had worked for most of his life as a long-distance lorry driver. In February last year he suffered a heart attack, which led to a stent being fitted and meant he could no longer work.

After six months’ statutory sick pay, he was then put on Employment Support Allowance. However, when this was reviewed, despite being classed as unfit to work by his GP, he was assessed by the DWP as being fit for work and his benefits were stopped.

He was then without benefits for seven weeks, said Miss Chandler, and even had to sell his tools to raise cash to make ends meet.

He had tried to call the job centre and DWP but was repeatedly put on hold and felt he was “not getting anywhere”. At the end of his tether, he had gone to the job centre with the axe “to cause a shock and get a reaction”.

That is compelling evidence, and should have won this man the conditional discharge that was recommended by the Probation Service. Magistrates could also have required him to seek treatment for the mental health problems that had clearly developed as a result of his ill-treatment by the DWP.

However, it seems the magistrates had other ideas. They handed down a six-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered the defendant to pay £85 in prosecution costs, an £80 victim surcharge and a £180 criminal courts charge. That’s £345, from a man on (reinstated) benefits!

Ludicrous. This is why it is so hard to connect the fate of benefit claimants to ill-treatment by the DWP.

Source: Frustrated benefits claimant who took axe to job centre handed suspended sentence | West Briton

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11 thoughts on “Wronged claimant who took axe to Job Centre needed medical help, not a suspended sentence and a fine

  1. ian725

    So….. magistrate how does the poor man pay the fine and costs without Income ?…. ‘Oh when he don’t pay we clap em in clink to cool off until someone pays’!

  2. aussieeh

    All Law in this country is bought and corrupt. As usual the criminals get away with it and the victim pays the price.This man clearly needed help and support, Why are the decent judges, Magistrates, Barristers and Solicitors not banding together to bring this corruption in our legal system to light. Now that would be news worth printing.

  3. Jeffery Davies

    Filling the jails up with peasants so that their mates companies can have fabulous bonuses the innocent shall pay even when they right jeff3

  4. toocomplex4justice

    I’ve been thinking along the same lines and I am in a similar situation. I was assaulted by a member of staff at my council housing offices, they destroyed the CCTV images to protect this person despite being ordered to make them available by the ICO. If I go and break his jaw I will get justice, I won’t have to worry where the next meal is coming from or how to pay the heating bill. It seems to make more sense than the hours of futile letter writing that has got me nowhere.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Did this man get justice?
      No, he got a suspended sentence and a fine he’ll find very hard to pay.
      Think very carefully before you consider any such rash act.

  5. wildswimmerpete

    The Corporate State in action, everything, including “justice”, is seen as a revenue stream from the disadvantaged to the wealthy. Look at the plethora of £80 fixed penalties used by councils as a revenue stream. Another scam is a council charging £40-60 for a Council Tax summons when the cost to the council concerned is around £2.50. Kerching 🙁

  6. Bewildered


    It should undoubtedly not be happening to people with stents in their hearts. This story reminds me of another case of a heart attack victim who was the one who was subsequently threatened by a benefit axe:


    In yet another case, a middle aged man with a stent in his heart was visibly struggling to get through his WCA – he was extremely weak, and gasping for breath. The next day he had a full blown heart attack and was rushed to hospital. While there, fighting for his very life, the dreaded brown envelope came through telling him he was fit for work!!!

    These cases have been going on for years – and they still go on. Yes, I’m bewildered.

  7. Barry Davies

    As long as you can walk once a day for 20 metres you are fit for work if you take the WCA as a basis, there is nothing in the assessment to deal with specific conditions. The story reminded me of the excellent Michael Douglas film falling down, except he din’t actually attack anyone. If he had gone in he could have smashed a few of their computers though, which would have saved a few others from sanctions.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I doubt that damaging a few workstations would cause too many problems. The information would all be on servers elsewhere and he’d have to break all the local machines before anybody would be prevented from accessing that information.

  8. pricklyonei

    I’ve just ‘failed’ my WCA, and had my ESA and Housing Benefit stopped without any warning. The report bore no relation whatsoever to the WCA interview and contains actual lies. One was that I stated I could sit and watch TV for 30 minutes without any discomfort.
    I don’t have a TV.
    Thankfully my landlord and the TV Licensing people are providing written statements to that effect, and I have been told (off the record) that my report will likely be dismissed, although my ESA has not been restarted. The stress of all this is already unbearable, let alone what is to come as I have to go through it all again with a new WCA. The whole system is rotten.

  9. Phil Lee

    So who at the DWP was charged with threatening behaviour, or behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace? I’d suggest IDS!
    The proof is that it did so.

Comments are closed.