Family’s possessions taken to tip after garage mix-up

Witney Gazette: Darran Brown, with, from left, daughters Ellie and Laura and wife Julie, says Sanctuary Housing is incompetent, after claims it allowed his belongings to be binned Darran Brown, with, from left, daughters Ellie and Laura and wife Julie, says Sanctuary Housing is incompetent, after claims it allowed his belongings to be binned

A COUPLE claim their rented garage was given away to new tenants by a housing association and prized family possessions then dumped.

Darran Brown, who lives with his wife Julie and daughters Ellie and Laura in Windrush Valley Road, Witney, fears he has he lost thousands of pounds worth of crystals from a collection, as well as wedding photographs and family memorabilia.

He accused Sanctuary Housing, which owns the property, of incompetence and said it allowed his possessions to be taken to a rubbish tip because it incorrectly thought he had not paid the rent on the garage.

The father-of-three, 45, a Stagecoach bus driver, said: “I’m devastated. We were ahead in our payments and yet this is how we’ve been treated by the housing association. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

“The crystals were my legacy to my children because I can’t afford to leave them my house – and they’ve just thrown them in the bin.”

His wife, 36, said she had been walking his dog on February 7 when he noticed the door of the garage, in Farm Road, was open and two men were loading possessions in to a red estate car.

Mrs Brown said she called the police to report a burg-lary and jumped in front of the car as the men were driving away to stop them from leaving.

But she said they had been told it was now their garage as the previous tenants had not paid rent for it since 2012 and Sanctuary had told them to clear it.

Mrs Brown, who was told the rest of her possessions had already been taken to the tip, also found the padlock had been changed and the garage door was not closing properly.

She was driven to Dix Pit, in Linch Hill, Stanton Harcourt, by her mother and brother and saw some of her items in the bins. She managed to retrieve some objects but others were out of reach or damaged beyond repair.

The garage door was later temporarily secured but now they cannot open it.

Her husband has been collecting Swarovski crystals for 14 years and says the damage to the boxes reduce their value, too.

He managed to retrieve some crystals worth about £3,000 but believes most of them have gone.

He said: “God knows how many of them have gone down the tip. They came from all over the world. We’ve been unable to go in and find how many are missing.

“We’ve also lost all our Christmas decorations and things our children made us.

“There was stuff in there like wedding memorabilia and photos from Disneyland Paris – the only time our kids have been abroad – which we can’t replace.

“It’s caused so much heartache.”

Christa Ripley, the local head of housing operations for Sanctuary, said: “There was a misunderstanding regarding the letting of a separate, nearby garage.

“We are very sorry for the confusion, and will be reviewing Mrs Brown’s complaint in detail.”

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