Colwyn Bay homeless former army medic who slept in shop doorway appears in court

Reporter:

Staff reporter (Rhyl Journal)

A HOMELESS former army medic who had been sleeping in a shop doorway has appeared in court.

Porsche Louise Roberts, 19, admitted breaching a public space protection order (PSPO) by “causing a nuisance” in the old Greenwoods store in Wrexham on February 1 and 22.

Helen Tench, prosecuting at Wrexham Magistrates Court, said Roberts and a man had “effectively made their home” in the doorway of the former Greenwoods shop on Hope Street from February 1-12.

They had stayed there at night and during the day causing rubbish to pile up, Miss Tench said, and their presence had attracted other people to the doorway.

Magistrates heard there had been reports of drug taking and alcohol use on the site and those there had been asked to move on several times.

Officers had reported a smell of urine and local complaints had been made that local businesses had been affected.

Police Safer Neighbourhood teams were in contact with Roberts throughout February, Miss Tench added, and that accommodation was available which she declined.

On November 22 an officer could see Roberts in the doorway with a wheelchair next to her.

There was a strong smell of urine and Roberts said she had wet herself and pointed to sodden underwear on the ground, adding that she could not make it to the toilet.
But the officer said he had seen her walking and felt she could easily make it to a nearby toilet and reported the matter.

Emma Simoes, defending, said that Roberts had been an Army medic for several years before she was involved in a serious road traffic collision.

She suffered from scoliosis and incontinence and was of no fixed address.

Miss Simoes said she objected to the statement that Roberts had declined accommodation.

Roberts and the man, Marco Constantino, were not allowed at the Ty Nos shelter at the time, as had been confirmed by an official at a hearing on February 24, magistrates heard.

There was a massive issue with drugs in Wrexham, Miss Simoes said, but Roberts did not use them.

Roberts had been brought to court because she had nowhere to live, Miss Simoes said.

She had no money to pay fines and Miss Simoes did not think that fining people who sought shelter in shop doorways was the answer.

But Miss Simoes added “we’re in the position we are”, Roberts was in breach of the PSPO and had pleaded guilty.

Roberts was “very embarrassed” for the fact that she had soiled herself to be brought before open court, Miss Simoes said.

This was not something that she was proud of, and she would not have done it if she could have heleped it.

Magistrates heard how Mr Constantino and Roberts had tried to do as much as they could to clean up.

He would get a brush from Gregg’s while they were at the doorway to try sweep up, and they would also use baby wipes to clean the doorway area, Miss Simoes said.
Roberts was now in the night shelter and hopefully would not come back before the court again, Miss Simoes said.

“My client is here because she has effectively been sleeping in a doorway, she added

“No more, no less.”

Mike Jones, chairman of the magistrates panel, said they had sympathy for Roberts’ situation, but told her: “We’re running out of options. Our hands are tied as to what we can do.”

All they could come up with, he said, was a 12 month conditional discharge to run alongside one already in place for another matter.

No costs were ordered due to Roberts’ lack of income, but a £20 surcharge had to be imposed.

Mr Jones said there were no further options other than prison, so Roberts needed to sort out her life.

“If you have been offered a home, take it. There are other options open to us then,” he added

Roberts said she was originally from Colwyn Bay and that Wrexham Council and other agencies had refused to offer her help or support her as she was not from the area.

Colwyn Bay had offered her support, she added.

Mr Jones told her that if someone offers help, she should take it.

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