Shopkeeper’s suicide after visit from energy debt collectors

A Bradford shopkeeper hanged himself moments after a visit from three debt collectors from British Gas. Anthony Waters, 48, had his power cut off when he was unable to pay […]

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By Vicky Ellis

A Bradford shopkeeper hanged himself moments after a visit from three debt collectors from British Gas.

Anthony Waters, 48, had his power cut off when he was unable to pay in full a £5,000 energy bill.

According to the Mirro, the distressed man warned the British Gas workmen: “I will hang myself.”

Although he offered to pay £1,000 on the spot it was not enough to keep them from disconnecting the property.

When the British Gas trio left the small supermarket they alerted police, as Mr Waters had closed the shutters and locked the door.

Bradford Coroner Oliver Longstaff’s verdict was that he intentionally took his own life on the morning of 22 July 2014.

The coroner said: “There is considerable evidence in my mind that Anthony Waters was under a considerable amount of stress with the financial difficulties of the business.

“There is evidence that he was put on the spot by the British Gas officers,” it was reported.

British Gas said: “We were very saddened by the death of Mr Anthony Waters, and have offered our sincere sympathies to his family.”

The firm said disconnection is “always a last resort and follows a lengthy period of discussions about repayment plans and attempts to resolve the issue”.

They added: “British Gas employees who were onsite when we executed the warrant followed our established procedures. Because of what Mr Waters said, they contacted the police and remained there until officers arrived.

“This is a most distressing case. We have re-examined very carefully the circumstances of the disconnection of Mr Waters’ business account and we are looking to learn any lessons from this.”

The case comes as regulator Ofgem recently rapped suppliers for threatening letters to indebted customers.