Judge criticises gas rebel after 10-year meter rumpus

A sharp eyed judge told how he rumbled a couple who claimed they were victims of disability discrimination.

Monday, 22nd May 2017, 1:29 pm
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 8:54 pm
David Hughes

Former Royal Artillery gunner David Hughes, 58, and his partner Wendy ran up a bill of over £10,000 by refusing to pay British Gas for over a decade.

When Hughes, of Annesley Avenue, Layton, appeared in court he told District Judge Gary Garland that he was registered blind and could not read documents sent to him.

Then his partner collapsed in court with apparent breathing problems and paramedics had to be called in.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But Judge Garland revealed that during a break in proceedings at Blackpool Magistrates Court he came across Hughes and his partner.

“They were speeding along the footpath in their electric buggies both of them smoking cigarettes,” he told Blackpool Magistrates Court.

“Mr Hughes’ partner seemed fit and healthy. When they saw me they immediately slowed down.”

The judge granted British Gas a warrant to enter the couple’s home and cut off their power supply and described a 15-page e-mail Hughes had sent to court as “tripe”.

Judge Garland added: “Mr Hughes has got away without paying his British Gas bill for over 10 years. I am amazed the supplier has allowed this to carry on for so long.

“His latest gripe is that he wants a pre-payment meter installed but only at a certain height.

“I am not prepared to be intimidated with threats of disability discrimination. This man concedes has the money to pay so why hasn’t he and stopped these proceedings?

“If it is is about principles then principles are a food you can choke on.

“I have seen with my own eyes these people outside court and what they can do.”

At an earlier hearing Hughes said he would appeal to a higher court – but there is no recourse to appeal in such proceedings.

Hughes told that hearing: “They can cut me off and I will freeze to death with my partner and my sensory dog Jake.”

Hughes did not attend the latest hearing when the warrant was granted. The judge told British Gas to act as quickly as possible.

Mr Hughes has previously appeared in The Gazette alongside his mother Mary complaining about the state of the resort’s pavements.