No compensation order for causing hostel leak
Michelle Walpole shoved cigarette packets, pants, tea bags and sanitary items down the toilet in her room at the Clarkson House hostel, run by the Ferry Project in Wisbech.
Her actions on December 15 caused hazardous sewage water to leak through the ceiling of the hostel kitchen below, forcing the charity to spend around £5,000 on decontamination and repairs.
But at King’s Lynn Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, Walpole walked free without having to pay a penny in compensation to the Ferry Project.
She was only told to pay £75 compensation to the owner of a car which she scratched in anger when the charity served her with an eviction notice.
The compensation order was given as a sentence in its own right, with no further punishment.
Homeless Walpole, who gave her address in court as “a shop door” in Wisbech, admitted causing criminal damage at the Ferry Project.
A charge of causing damage to the rear windscreen of the car, which she mistakenly believed belonged to a member of Ferry Project staff, was taken into consideration.
Fergus Harold, prosecuting, said Walpole was given a place at the Ferry Project to help her find long-term accommodation.
When she moved in, staff had warned her not to flush anything other than toilet paper down the toilet.
“She ignored that advice and put all and sundry in it,” said Mr Harold. “It blocked the toilet and caused a leak. “The kitchen was subject to a deep-clean for hygiene reasons as sewage water had leaked through the ceiling into the kitchen area.
“Considerable impact was caused as a result of her behaviour.
“In police interview, she admitted deliberately trying to block the toilet to get the attention of staff as she felt they were ignoring her.”
Mr Harold had asked magistrates to consider awarding compensation to the Ferry Project to help pay for the £5,000 clean-up.
Money had to be spent on bills from an emergency call-out team, decontamination company, and security firm for a resulting fire alarm issue, as well as costs replacing a toilet and shower, re-carpeting, re-plastering and much more.
He said although insurance would pay some costs, there would still be a financial impact on the charity.
A Ferry Project spokesman said the charity was unable to comment on individual cases.