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Home   Thanet   News   Article

Grandfather William Cairns, formerly of Eaton Road, Margate, forced to sleep rough after leaving Elmley Prison

12 March 2014
by Mary Louis
William Cairns tough to make a fresh start when “in a state freezing cold and filthy dirty due to being forced to sleep rough after leaving prison.

William Cairns: tough to make a fresh start when “in a state" "freezing cold and filthy dirty" due to being forced to sleep rough after leaving prison.

William Cairns, 59, formerly of Eaton Road, Margate, was jailed for four years in June 2012 for attempted arson in 2011 at the AMCO supermarket in Queen Street, Ramsgate.

He is fighting to overturn his conviction for an offence he denied from the outset.  His case is due for consideration by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

After serving two years, Mr Cairns was released on parole on from Elmley Prison on the Isle of Sheppey.

According to Mr Cairns, communication breakdowns and pressure on resources, involving the prison’s offender management unit and the probation service, meant he came out with nowhere to go and ended up forced to sleep rough for several days. He found temporary reprieve staying with his daughter in Herne Bay up to last weekend, but said he could not stay beyond then due to family issues.

Mr Cairns, who has a background in catering and previously worked in a Broadstairs pub, continues to maintain that he is not guilty of the offence for which he was convicted by jury and is striving to rebuild his life.

He is keen to be back in work as soon as possible, ideally in catering or construction and to re-establish a home.

He told the KM Group of his frustration and stress at coming out of prison “where I worked very hard”, achieving a series of qualifications, only to find himself on the streets with nowhere to stay and virtually no money.

Being homeless, forced to sleep rough and with little cash had made his chances of making a fresh start much harder. It was extremely difficult, if not impossible, when “in a state, dirty and unwashed.”

It had meant he had been unable to make one appointment at Margate probation office. Mr Cairns said: “I was freezing cold, filthy dirty and felt disgusted with myself. At least in prison I was warm, clean and had a roof over my head.”

Mr Cairns contacted the KM Group in desperation to highlight his situation.

He has a prison memo in his support from a senior officer D Newsome, dated February 25. It states that for 30 days Mr Cairns “had been making strenuous efforts to contact his probation officer, to no avail.

“He has tried several different avenues, including applications to the resettlement department and approaching wing staff and unit managers for any assistance they can provide. Each of these departments has met with the same end result of little/no progress, despite their best efforts to help.”

A document from a National Careers Service adviser highlights “accommodation” as Mr Cairns’ main barrier to finding long term work.

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