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Maidstone 'fire hero' leaves after a week living in tent outside home where he was evicted

A grandfather who moved into a tent outside his home of nearly two decades having being kicked out by bailiffs has packed up and left after a week of sleeping rough.

Paul Wallis was described by some as a hero for helping neighbours escape a fire which ripped through an apartment block in Maidstone last year.

However, the 52-year-old has since been in and out of court over rent arrears, after falling on hard times which saw him suffer injuries, lose his job at the local hospital and spiral into depression.

WATCH: The moment Paul Wallis left his home of 17 years

With unpaid debts totalling more than £3,000, he was then evicted last week from his two-bed home in Telford House, where he has lived for 17 years.

In response, he set up a tent in the front garden, where he had been living with his dog, Cali, since last Tuesday and relying on donations from neighbours to keep him warm and fed.

Paul claimed to have been told that his "heroics" during the evening the blaze started meant he would be provided with extra help in avoiding the prospect of eviction.

"I was brought up in a world where if you did something a little bit heroic, you should be rewarded for something like that, not punished," he said.

Golding Homes, which owns the property, said it could not comment on his actions on the night of the fire but said its team were in contact to support him with his rent arrears prior to seeking eviction.

Pictured is Paul Wallis who has been evicted from his home and is now living in a tent in the front garden..Telford House, off Boxley Road, Maidstone, ME14 2UW.Picture: Andy Jones. (10034012)
Pictured is Paul Wallis who has been evicted from his home and is now living in a tent in the front garden..Telford House, off Boxley Road, Maidstone, ME14 2UW.Picture: Andy Jones. (10034012)

Paul said it would break his heart to have to leave the house, adding that he didn't feel safe anywhere else.

However, he was then today served with an injunction order from Maidstone County Court, ordering him to leave not just the premises of Telford House but a far wider area, stretching from the Esso garage on Boxley Road to the corner of Grecian Road and Wheeler Street.

Paul Wallis has been ordered to leave not just the premises of Telford House but a far wider area (10310447)
Paul Wallis has been ordered to leave not just the premises of Telford House but a far wider area (10310447)
Paul Wallis has been ordered to leave not just the premises of Telford House but a far wider area (10310449)
Paul Wallis has been ordered to leave not just the premises of Telford House but a far wider area (10310449)

This means any immediate neighbours would be unable to house him in their own properties as they would be breaching the order.

Paul said he had been told in recent days that he could live in a bedsit elsewhere in the town, but would not be able to take Cali with him, and so left frantically searching for a temporary base for the night.

Before departing, he said: "I'm just exhausted, and I don't want to be a burden to the rest of these people any more."

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone

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