Nigel Hurst and his daughter Jessica, who has told how her dad was driven to suicide over an escalating debt.
Nigel Hurst and his daughter Jessica, who has told how her dad was driven to suicide over an escalating debt.

Dad kills himself over council debt

A UK dad killed himself after a missed council tax bill spiralled into $131,000 (£72,000) of debt and left him bankrupt.

Nigel Hurst tragically wrote a final Facebook post hinting at what he was about to do, before his body was found hours later by bailiffs.

"Goodnight sweet world," the 56-year-old wrote in the emotional post.

In a letter to his daughters, he said it "breaks my heart to write this".

"I love you with all my heart," he wrote.

"I have been so unhappy in my personal life for so long, I cannot go on. Now I am about to lose my house as well as my self respect, I have decided to go. Do not grieve for me for long. Passing for me will be a huge relief."

His body was found alongside the note to Jessica, 26, and Sally, 20 explaining his decision. "Sadly he never sought financial advice and never spoke to me or my sister," Jessica told the BBC.

"He was a very private person and would have seen asking for help as a failure - as a man, as much as anything else. I think he buried his head in the sand, put the letters to one side and tried to carry on life as normal."

Nigel buried his head in the sand about his growing debts, his daughter Jessica said.
Nigel buried his head in the sand about his growing debts, his daughter Jessica said.

 

In his suicide note to daughters, Jessica, 26, and Sally, 20, he said death would be a relief as he faced eviction to pay the debt.
In his suicide note to daughters, Jessica, 26, and Sally, 20, he said death would be a relief as he faced eviction to pay the debt.

Mr Hurst initially owed $2680 (£1473) but his debts eventually escalated to $131,00 (£72,000). Before his death he was paying monthly fees of $1450 (£800) in a bid to repay the total sum.

He had missed a payment in 2008 and was billed for a year upfront, his daughter Jessica said.

After the sum owed to the council reached $17,000 (£9332) in 2014, Mr Hurst was declared bankrupt at Barrow-in Furness County Court.

The dad was charged an extra $6910 (£3800) for "statutory interest". The bill he owed to trustees appointed to collect his debt, BDO, then crept up to $131,000 (£72,000).

In a bid to keep the family home - valued at $254,560 (£140,000) - Jessica offered to pay $72,730 (£40,000) in March but debt firm BDO UK refused.

She shared her dad's suicide note with the Daily Record in a bid to expose the impact which bailiffs can have on people's lives.

A coroner in March ruled Nigel's death on October 4 was suicide.

"On Wednesday, October 4, 2017, a court bailiff and agent were due to meet Mr Hurst and the property handed over," BDO UK said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, the tragic discovery of Mr Hurst's death was made. BDO have waived their statutory entitlement to be paid all their fees, and have been in contact with the other stakeholders in an endeavour to minimise the bankruptcy liabilities and costs."

South Lakeland District Council revenues and benefits manager Michael Fisher told the BBC that "now we have the full picture of Mr Hurst's situation, we do regret starting the bankruptcy process".

"We would not have taken this course of action had we had the full picture from the outset," he said.

"Mr Hurst did not co-operate and the reason his fees are as high as they are is because of the amount of time and effort which has been spent on trying to recover the moneys that were outstanding."

He recommended anyone else in Mr Hurst's situation to talk to their creditors as soon as possible.

How did Mr Hurst's debt become so huge?

• Combining his council debt and other smaller amounts owed to American Express, HSBC and United Utilities North West Mr Hurst owed $21,340 (£11,738) by 2014.

• After he was declared bankrupt he was charged $6910 (£3800) in "statutory interest" which raised his debt to around $28,180 (£15,500).

• In addition to this, BDO - the trustees appointed to collect the debt, BDO - charged $41,820 (£23,000) and almost $20,000 (£11,000) in legal costs.

• A $18,180 (£10,000) "Secretary of State" fee was also added on.

• Then he was also charged $10,000 (£5500) in fees for changing the locks, shutting off electricity and water and a "drive-by" of the house to value it.

If you or someone you know needs help, call Lifeline on 13 11 14


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