Cold snap | 

Recovering alcoholic facing third winter in house with only one window after drug dealer attack

'It's a scandal that after two and a half years I'm still living in a house which is open to the elements'
Sydney fears a cold snap is coming

Sydney fears a cold snap is coming

Hugh Jordan

A recovering alcoholic is facing a third Christmas in a freezing house with only one window after they were put in by drug dealers.

And unless something is done soon, Sydney Mowbray (52) says he'll be forced to endure yet another winter in the cold and damp property.

Sydney claims the farcical situation arose as a result of a repairs clause in his lease agreement with the Housing Executive.

"It's a scandal that after two and a half years I'm still living in a house which is open to the elements," said Sydney.

Two years ago, he became embroiled a dispute with a man he suspected was selling heroin in Limavady and decided to speak out after a woman died from an overdose.

"I believed he was selling heroin around here and I warned everyone to be wary of him, but days later my house was attacked," he said.

"I was out visiting a friend when I received a call from a neighbour telling him the windows of my home had been smashed to pieces."

Sydney outside his vandalised Limavady home

Sydney outside his vandalised Limavady home

Sydney arrived at the Benevenagh Drive bungalow minutes later. The attacker had gone, but every window in the property was broken.

"The curtains and blinds were flapping in the wind," he said.

It was at this point Sydney's problems with his landlord - the Northern Ireland Housing Executive - really kicked off.

Sydney claims a Housing Executive officer told him the body was happy to replace or repair windows only if their frames were damaged.

Unemployed and divorced Sydney, who is surviving on benefits, says he just can't afford the huge bill for replacement glass. And for two years now he's been living in a house with only one window.

"The Housing Executive says there's nothing it can do for me," Sydney told the Sunday World.

"I wasn't even in the house when it was attacked by a man with a baseball bat. But the Executive only replaced one window, because the frame was damaged in the attack.

"A Housing Executive officer told me that under the terms of the lease, I have to pay for replacement windows.

"I'm unemployed and I just can't afford it. I'm confined to living in one small bedroom, but even my bed is damp as a result of the rest of the house being open to the elements.

"I asked the DUP to help me, but it seems it's more interested in holes in the roads around here than the housing conditions people are being forced to live in.

"The last two winters were bad enough and the forecast for this one seems worse. The damage done to my home wasn't my fault, but the Executive is refusing to budge over a small clause in my lease," he said.

Sydney - originally from Cullion outside Derry - moved to Limavady when he was released from prison eight years ago.

Sydney outside his vandalised Limavady home

Sydney outside his vandalised Limavady home

He explained his marriage broke down as a result of his addiction to alcohol.

"My wife owned a pub in Cullybacky and I worked behind the bar. When people told me to take one for myself, I usually took two!"

Sydney openly admits he's still battling the booze, but he's pleased to report he hasn't touched a drop for well over a year now.

"But I'm doing well battling the booze - although it's not easy when I'm being forced to live in a house with only one window," he added.

Yesterday a spokesman for the Housing Executive said: "Our tenant is aware replacement glass is the tenant's responsibility and he has agreed to contribute towards replacing the windows.

"We would encourage him to contact the Limavady office, so that we can work with him to resolve this issue."

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