Leeds ‘fishmonger house’ row sparks jail threat

Steven Evelyn outside the property in Chapeltown where he has lived since the late 1990's.

Steven Evelyn outside the property in Chapeltown where he has lived since the late 1990's.

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A man is facing jail – for refusing to stop using the former fishmongers he owns as his home.

Steven Evelyn, 50, has been living in the building on Reginald Street in Chapeltown since the late 1990s, buying it in 2000.

But last year he was hit with an injunction banning him from accessing it via a patch of land to the side of the building.

It came after a Leeds County Court judge ruled that the 1953 conveyance setting out his ownership rights meant he was only allowed on that land if he was using the building as a fishmongers or greengrocery.

Unemployed engineer Mr Evelyn is continuing to insist that the paperwork gives him the right to enter the brick-built structure, which contains a small bedroom, kitchen and living room. He says he would be left homeless if he was forced out.

But he has now been ordered to the county court next Wednesday and is facing the prospect of prison for breaching the injunction.

“After a lifetime of working – and I have worked all my life – this is the only thing I own,” he said. “I’ve been trying to make a home of it because circumstances have put me here.

“I’ve never been a criminal, but if they send me to prison, that’s what they will have made me.”

Last year’s injunction followed a long-running dispute with neighbours over access and allegations of antisocial behaviour. But Mr Evelyn, who lives alone, claims the ruling amounts to forced eviction, which he believes is a breach of the law.

He said he could not afford a lawyer, has represented himself at all hearings and says he will have to do so again on Wednesday unless someone volunteers their services.

He said: “Should I be driven out simply because I haven’t got the money to fight it?”

The neighbours involved in the dispute declined to comment ahead of the court hearing.

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