A Christmas Tale: the Gauntlett Inquiry

The following is a report on the Kent Coroner’s Inquest into the Death of Daniel Gauntlett, who froze to death outside an empty cottage in 2013; it comprises an analysis of the inquest findings, based on notes taken during it, supplemented by additional research. Highly recommended are Al’s Law blog articles on the same inquest:

“Daniel Gauntlett hypothermia death verdict” [Al’s Law, 10 December 2014]

“Question’s unanswered in the Daniel Gauntlett inquest” [Al’s Law, 11 December 2014]




1) Drinking Habits,

2) Engaging with the Housing Services,

3) Basic Life-Saving Equipment,

4) Role of the Police,

5) Role of the Owners



Hermitage Lane Map

Agencies: 1) Police 2) Owner 3) Homeless services 4) Misc.

SQUASH observer: Inquiry Notes



Daniel Gauntlett was born on the 11th July 1977 in Maidstone. After his brother died in a tragic event, Daniel started drinking heavily, and as a result lost his job, girlfriend, children and eventually his home. He became street homeless around January 2012, eventually sleeping rough outside derelict cottages on Hermitage Lane. In the month leading up to his death, he was visited several times by community wardens, and once (or twice?) by the Kent police in relation to squatters at 196 London Road. Witnesses state that he appeared physically affected by the cold, and claim that he was drinking 3l bottles of white cider throughout. After the 22nd February his movements cannot be confirmed, but Daniel was found dead on the 25th February 2013, as a result of hypothermia.

The Kent Coroner’s Office conducted an inquiry into his death a year after the fact, on the 10th December 2014. Thoughout the inquest, there was constant reference to Daniel’s drinking habits, and the lack of key witnesses, such as Kent police officers who spoke to him on the 7th (and ? 11th) February 2013. According to a source, the Gauntlett family were only notified of the inquiry days before, and did not have independent representation or predetermined questions. After two hours of hearing witness statements, the Coroner deliberated for ten minutes before returning a judgement of: “death by hypothermia, contributed to by self-neglect”, in a lazy blame-the-victim verdict. There was no mention of s144 LASPO (anti-squat law), any analysis of Daniel’s lack of access to housing, or failures by Kent council to provide emergency relief. The decision means that there is unlikely to be any further investigation into the failure of state agencies to provide for his basic needs, or the effect of s144 LASPO on the circumstances surrounding his death.

The Coroner’s verdict, especially “self-neglect”, was based on key points gleaned from pieces of evidence, witnesses and witness statements. The key points are addressed in turn to assess the factors which led to Daniel Gauntlett’s death:

1] Drinking Habits:

Daniel’s drinking was heavily emphasised throughout, but Daniel’s drinking was not excessive for a street drinker. It was ascertained that he drank one 3l bottle of white cider a day, and when he died, he was sobering up from the equivalent of 7-8 pints (of beer). An Alcohol Concern report “White Cider and street drinkers (see Misc) shows that many of Daniel’s conditions (unkept, sleeping a lot, bottles lying around) can be attributed to consequences of white cider drinking. White cider is very cheap, enables forgetting painful experiences, and is highly addictive. Attempts in the past to make white cider more expensive so as to encourage street drinkers to adopt alternatives have all failed, notably due to drinks companies fearing loss of profits. Daniel’s outward appearance of “self-neglect” may be largely attributed to his drinking white cider regularly.

2] Engaging with the Housing Services:

Community warden Newton emphasised that whenever he went to visit Daniel, he always encouraged Daniel to visit Gateway, the homeless advice service in Maidstone. The Coroner repeatedly asked him whether Daniel was engaging with Kent housing services to find accommodation; she was told “no”. However, Daniel’s housing interview August 2012 shows that he was not eligible for emergency accommodation according to Kent council, as he was not priority need or vulnerable as defined by the council; their homeless services focus on the 16-25 age bracket, and Daniel was 35 years old. The council has no statutory obligation for housing homeless people, and only acts as a sign-posting agency; Gateway points homeless people to seek help from: Porchlight, Trinity Foyer (Home Group), Kent Homechoice, and KASSH (Riverside) – (see Agencies: Homeless services). All these are private agencies, many with stakes in property, regeneration and for-profit contracts with the council, with very little evidence of genuine concern for the plight of the homeless. KASSH is a homeless service, run by Riverside, a for-profit company with arms in Home Ownership, Regeneration and Development, and Home Improvement. Trinity Foyer is run by Home Group, with a turnover of £300m year, and its directors are from the financial and private-housing sector. Porchlight is a homeless charity who git a £300k a year contract from the council “to help reduce problematic street based activities”; this includes asking the public to report rough sleepers, and physically going out to find rough sleepers. Their Board of Trustees include investment bankers, security personnel and an estate-agent chain owner. Kent Homechoice provides letting services to social housing providers (housing association and private); their system of allocating properties is based on a “bidding” system that is confusing and technology-intensive, inappropriate for someone who is sleeping rough. To say that Daniel was not engaging with the housing services is disingenuous; the privatised homeless services on offer were totally inadequate, run by for-profit institutions primarily interested in reducing unsightly homelessness in the interests of rising property values.      

3] Basic Life-Saving Equipment:

Daniel’s conditions during February 2013 were terrible; witnesses state he appeared visibly cold, his clothes and sleeping bag were wet, his shelter totally inadequate. Yet at no point did the community wardens provide him with any life-saving equipment, such as a tent or sleeping bag for example; nor did they inform him whether emergency procedures were in place so he could get B&B accommodation due to the extreme weather (see “Housing Options” – Inquiry notes). All Daniel’s warm materials were provided by concerned people in the village of Ditton, none by the council or state agencies. The tarpaulin hanging over Daniel was procured by wardens when they moved another homeless person on; they gave the tattered plastic sheet to Daniel to provide him “cover”. Wardens could see that Daniel was in grave danger of hypothermia (alcoholic, snow, exposed), yet all they did was advise him that he should visit Gateway. No questions were asked during the inquiry whether this was sufficient, or even humane; nor was it ever put forward that Daniel might have had a better chance of survival had he been inside the derelict cottage.

4] The Role of the Police & s144 LASPO

Daniel had already had “run-ins”/ “contact” with the Kent police in the past (no details given), and was “known” to them, suggesting that he was tracked as a rough sleeper. Some of Daniel’s visits to A&E in the past were due to assaults (eg being pushed), but no circumstances given. Daniel did not trust the police and was apprehensive of them; rough sleepers are regularly subject to police harassment, intimidation and even violence. On 7th February, police were present at 196 London Road (near Hermitage Lane) investigating suspected “squatters” inside; they wanted to question Daniel about this. The community warden(s) took the police to see Daniel at No. 14 Hermitage Lane, but finding him in such a bad state, they immediately called an ambulance; the police talked to Daniel for only 5-7 minutes according to a source. However later that day, Daniel visited his father wearing flimsy clothes, claiming he had been arrested and his clothes taken in for forensic tests. Daniel’s suspicious attitude during the community warden’s visit the next day, as do accounts of his “wet” clothing being “left behind at No. 12”, suggest he had been detained by the police. There is still a question whether he was questioned again by officers regarding squatters at 196 on the 11th February (unclear). The only Kent police officer at the Inquiry did not have Daniel’s arrest record, and had only been at the scene when his body was found. There are vital details missing from the role of the police in the lead-up to Daniel’s death. The story about the squatters at 196 is full of peculiarities: young adults who were “missing persons” and disappeared soon after, Daniel identified as entering the property, a four-person police operation for the “squatters”, s144 LASPO never mentioned. What we do know is that there was intensified police activity in the area early-February 2013, apparently in relation to the presence of “squatters” in one of the derelict properties; Daniel may or may not have been arrested, and his clothes removed from him.

5] The Role of the Owner (Royal British Legion Industries)   

The Royal British Legion Village (based on the opposite side of London Road) were the owners of the derelict cottages on Hermitage Lane. The cottages were built during the 1920’s for returning war veterans, and a number (5 or 6) became derelict, most for at least 5 years. Royal British Legion Village (RBLV) adamantly kept them empty, removing any rough sleepers who skippered inside. The one time Daniel joined a man living inside one of the empty cottages, they were both turfed out by the owner, RBLV; how this was done is not clear: were they forcibly removed, did police intervene, were bailiffs or private security used, etc? This experience seems to have affected Daniel, and from then on he only ever slept outside the empty properties, on the veranda, even when it fell below 0 degrees Celsius. The introduction of the new squatting law for residential property, s144 LASPO, made it even more imperative Daniel not enter, or he would almost certainly have faced imprisonment.

Royal British Legion Industries is a privatised charity, dealing in property, managing care homes and providing private healthcare. In addition, the area around Maidstone is under pressure from intensive house-building interest, with green-belt and woods under threat, and local resident groups fighting to stop the developments. There was growing interest in the land around Hermitage Lane (East and West) for property development, from private house-builders like Croudace (see Misc). Royal British Legion Industries no doubt knew the value of the cottages there, may have encouraged many to become derelict and was vigilant to ensure that no-one occupied the premises, which might hamper their future development plans. In March 2014, they submitted a planning application to demolish No. 2-16 Hermitage Lane to make way for a drive-thru and retail park (see Agencies – Owner).


The Coroner’s verdict of “self-neglect” was too predetermined; it may be better to attribute Daniel’s death to the “purposeful neglect by the state”. When Daniel Gauntlett found himself street homeless, he was stuck between a rock and a hard place, without help, sympathy or support. The housing services to which he was directed were all run by private for-profit institutions, directed by the council, whose prime objective was to eliminate visible homelessness rather than assist rough sleepers. Being an alcoholic, Daniel turned to the cheapest drink on the market, white cider, and as a consequence he fell into an unkept state; the government has never created any effective regulation to curb their accessibility and cheapness. The agencies which visited Daniel (wardens), or he visited (hospital), seem to have been impotent to do anything to help him; their efforts were well-intentioned, but totally inadequate (tarpaulin, GP’s letter). Visit(s) by the police may have worsened his condition, if we are to believe that he was arrested and stripped of his clothes; if this is true, their spite is truly criminal. The owners of the cottages, a war-veteran’s charity focused on profit, made no agreement with the rough sleepers on Hermitage Lane to accommodate them over the freezing winter; their methods of eviction are not known, but these effectively deterred rough sleepers from sheltering themselves. Section 144 LASPO was just the nail in Daniel’s coffin; an intensified search for squatters, police powers to step in, and squatting the residential cottages a criminal offense, all happened in the lead-up to Daniel’s death. Daniel, a young man and only in his second year of sleeping rough, died of hypothermia outside an empty building; Daniel’s story is an insight into the conditions faced by the growing street homeless population in Britain today.





  • January 2012 – Daniel Gauntlett becomes street homeless
  • August 2012 – A&E with injury sustained in an assault (ankle, nose fracture)
  • August 2012 – Daniel interview with Kent housing service; not eligible for emergency accommodation, and sign-posted to private agencies.
  • Thursday 7th February 2013 – Community wardens take 2 police officers dealing with squatters at 196 London Rd to see Daniel at No. 14 Hermitage Lane. Find him in a bad state and call an ambulance. Goes later that day to see his father without clothes, claims he was arrested.
  • Friday 8th February 2013 – Community warden calls on Daniel, but finds him stand-offish.
  • (?) Monday 11th February 2013 – Community wardens take police officers to question Daniel about squatters. Left clothes at No. 12 because they were wet.
  • Thursday 14th February 2013 – Community warden visits Daniel, finds him asleep, gives him duvet from local resident. Daniel shows him letter from hospital requesting he get emergency accommodation.
  • Friday 22nd February 2013 – Community warden visits Daniel with bag of clothes from local resident. Finds Daniel awake and in good spirits.
  • Saturday, Sunday 23rd – 24th February 2013 – Daniel dies of hypothermia during the night as temperatures drop to -4 degrees Celsius.


The Area: London Road & Hermitage Lane

1] Map from above (w/ 196 London Rd, 12, 14 Hermitage Lane)


2] Google Streetview – 196 London Road -right, (back seen from Hermitage Lane)

196 London Rd

3] Google Streetview – No. 12 & 14 Hermitage Lane

12 hermitage


From witness statements: There were 5 or 6  boarded up cottages on Hermitage Lane, including No. 12 & 14 Hermitage Lane, where Daniel slept; they had been derelict for 5+ years.  The owner of the 1920’s farm cottages was Royal British Legion Village, which was based on the other side of London Road. The cottages had gradually become vacant, and the last resident left recently. They are planned for demolition and a new retail park & fast-food drive-thu built in their place. Daniel was regularly seen begging outside Sainsbury’s round the corner. Across the road from the cottages were open fields, making the site exposed to the elements.




Royal British Legion Village

Royal British Legion Village, which is owned and run by Royal British Legion Industries.

Planning Application for Hermitage Lane cottages

Planning Application for cottages on Hermitage Lane made by Hawkstone Vale LLP and Royal British Legion Industries. 13/02637/FL: “Demolition of eight C3 residential bungalows and redevelopment to provide three A1 retail units (2,730 sqm GIA) and one A5 ‘drive thru’ unit (516 sqm GIA), car and cycle parking, vehicular access, pedestrian access and associated landscaping. Land At 203 London Road And 2-16 Hermitage Lane Aylesford Kent.” The plan was first advertised October 2013, the application was submitted 31 March 2014, and a decision made on 22nd August 2014.

Press article on proposed demolition:

“Bungalows used by war veterans in Hermitage Lane, Aylesford, will be demolished to make way for a drive-thru and small retail park” [Kent Online]


“Who’s who on your streets: A guide to the policing team in Kent”


Gateway, Maidstone, Kent: a council-run sign-posting service for homeless people. Their sign-posting recommends the following options for the street homeless:

Kent Advice Service for Single Homeless (KASSH): “KASSH offer help and support through a variety of pre-arranged and drop in appointments, for single people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.” The service is run by Riverside, whose other services include Home Ownership, PFI, Regeneration and Development, Stock Transfers, and Riverside Home Improvement Agency. Riverside’s Board of Directors

Porchlight : A homeless charity, whose campaigns include encouraging the public to report rough sleepers and putting out its own research on the subject: “Slipping through the Net” (Porchlight). Porchlight’s main income is derived from a contract with Kent County Council ( £300k per annum) for discouraging rough sleeping (see Financial Accounts 2013/14) , which Porchlight announced in a press release in 2010: “Kent homeless charity Porchlight has launched a new service in partnership with Maidstone Borough Council to help reduce problematic street based activities in the town.” Porchlight Board of Trustees includes an ex-investment banker (Celia Glynn-Williams), ex-security personnel (Anton Pieterse), and an estate-agent chain-owner (John Townend) to name just three.

Trinity Foyer is homeless hostel run by Home Group  “a social enterprise and a charity with a turnover of over £325m, […] one of the UK’s largest providers of high quality housing and supported housing services and products.” Home Group’s Board of Directors  include an ex-banker & PFI expert (Nick Salisbury), ex-board member of Barratt Homes & Northern Rock (Bob Davies) and ex-director of private house building firms (Nigel Fee).

Kent Homechoice: “Kent Homechoice is the choice based lettings service for all social housing in Kent […] the largest scheme in the UK, with 38 partners, including 23 housing associations.” Applicants apply for a home through the following complicated process: : Step 1 – Membership; Step 2 – Registration; Step 3 – Bidding; Step 4 – Offer; Step 5 – Feedback.



The area has been identified by the council as land for building new homes in the Maidstone Local Plan, in its Housing Site Assessments, and Gypsy and Traveller Site Assessments (East and West Hermitage Lane). The land east of Heritage Lane is in the sights of The Croudace Homes Group, “a privately owned house building company”. Croudace issued a Design Statement for its plans for build a large number of houses on greenbelt, which was rejected due to local pressure: “Councillors reject homes plan for land east of Hermitage Lane, Maidstone” [Kent Online] .



“White Cider and street drinkers: Recommendations to reduce harm” [Alcohol Concern, 2011]


From the Report (Pg 12-13):

“[…] the effects of drinking white cider provides an often hidden view on the bleak lives they live; “two litres, and above, reduces appetite, stops shaking, initially heightens emotion, more talkative, blurs vision, dulls conscience, eventually unconsciousness; wake up shaking, no appetite; sleep deprivation, takes over the day; can’t sleep if I don’t drink; having no energy to focus on doing daily tasks; self-neglect, social isolation; more cloudy in memory; sweats, bad dreams; it takes a lot to get drunk; doesn’t help me do anything else; ill and shaky in the mornings, find it hard to eat; pain in back, really bad heartburn; makes me drunk and nauseous; tummy aches, not pleasant; makes me feel invincible, so more likely to get into fights; diarrhoea.”11 Double incontinence is a common complaint that is more likely to be mentioned by the workers we interviewed. Having constantly wet and soiled clothing leads to a great loss of dignity, and many of the residents are really in need of nursing home care.”

“Their descriptions of behavioural impacts include; “less likely to attend appointments, poor money-management; decreased motivation skills; not going out on my own; aggressive behaviour, ASBOs, evictions pending convictions, drunk and disorderly offences; noise nuisance, complaints against me; excuse for intolerable behaviour, poor hygiene; chronic lifestyle; reduced social skills; belief that without alcohol you cannot interact properly; inhibitions go and I can become argumentative, morbid, babble inanely.”


“The father who froze to death in a Kent village” [Guardian, 14 April 2013]

“Death of homeless man blamed on anti-squatting laws” [New Statesman, March 2013]


Held: Kent Coroner’s Office, Maidstone, Kent

Date: Wednesday 10th December 2014

Time: 1:30pm – 3:30pm

Notes taken by a SQUASH observer; some details may be out, as the inquiry did not deal with the sequence of events in a purely chronological fashion. This is especially relevant for events (if any) on the 11th February.


Stated that alcohol intoxication makes a person lose heat faster, masks the affects of the cold and sleeping on the ground. Daniel’s blood-urine ratio suggests that he was in a “drunken stupor”, sobering up, when he died; he had drunk the equivalent of 7-8 pints beer (“not excessive” for alcohol-related deaths) but it cannot be determined if he had been binge-drinking or drunk this amount over the course of the day. Although Daniel had a chest infection, for which he was taking antibiotics, this was not the cause of his death. October to March is the main period for hypothermic deaths.

Bruises on the body relate to the symptoms of hypothermia. He was partly undressed due to “paradoxical undressing”, confusion during hypothermia when the subject feels hot when they are not. His position when he died suggests he was suffering from “hide & die” fear, another symptom of hypothermia. There is nothing to suggest he was the victim of assault.

Brain Muller (Found Body)

The body was discovered at 8am by Brian Muller who was walking his dog along Hermitage Lane. He saw a pile of rubbish and clear plastic bottles, and a hand sticking out, which believed to be a dead body. He called the police.

Community Warden Newton:

7th February:

Police were dealing with suspected squatters in 196 London Road; they wanted to know who was living there. The community warden took 2 police officers to speak to Daniel, who was sleeping outside 14 Hermitage Lane. They saw he was sleeping rough, surrounded by alcohol bottles, was wet from the weather and shivering, had a cough and was blue, had signs of “withdrawing”. They called an ambulance and advised him that he should go to the housing department for accommodation.

On the 7th February, took police (PSOs) to see Daniel, who they were “looking for”. They found him passed out, drunk. Daniel was a “known” as rough sleeper by the community wardens, and one could tell he had been sleeping rough due to the state of his clothes. Daniel complained of pains in his head, back and chest. They put him in a space blanket and called an ambulance.

There were 5 or 6  boarded up cottages on Hermitage Lane (including No. 12 & 14). Daniel claimed that he never entered the cottages by himself, and had only done once when someone else had opened one up. The owners (Royal British Legion Village) kicked them out, and since then he only ever slept on the verandas of the empty cottages. Community wardens brought Daniel a tarp from another site to erect over the front of the veranda (No. 14) to protect him from the wind.

8th February:

Neighbourhood warden went to see Daniel the next day. Daniel was suspicious of him (he especially did not trust the police) and refused to be drawn into conversation. The warden said that he should go and follow through with the homeless service, Gateways (now Lendlines). Daniel said he would go, but the community warden felt he was being “told what he wanted to hear”. Warden gave him the address and encouraged him to go. The warden’s duty is to the community, and to build up trust with rough sleepers. Daniel was “sober” but “not forthcoming”.

11th February:

Four police officers were outside 196 London Road, and community warden took 2 inspectors to go speak to Daniel, who they were looking for, to “talk to him about the squatters there”. They found him at the second bungalow (No. 14), where he had no shelter, only a sleeping bag. Apparently he had abandoned his wet clothes at the previous cottage/ bungalow (No. 12). He looked very cold, hands red and blue, wearing several layers of clothing. Was barefoot; Daniel was known to take his shoes off when he slept and was often seen barefoot. Weather at the time consisted of sleet and snow, often 0 degrees Celsius. Coroner: “What was he asked?”; Warden: “He was encouraged to go to Gateways. Daniel said he had gone and got some numbers but didn’t have any money to call them.” Coroner: “Would you say Daniel was trying to sort things out or letting things slide?” Warden: “The second”

14th February:

Community warden brought a tarpaulin to his new residence, No. 14. A resident of local village (Ditton) had given a duvet to the community warden to give to Daniel. Warden roused him, questioned him, wrapped him in the duvet. Daniel had a letter from the hospital saying he should be given emergency housing as soon as possible. There were signs he had been drinking. Warden offered to drive Daniel to the housing office, but he didn’t want to. Daniel was thankful for the tarp and the duvet. Daniel had had some confrontations with the police in the past. Daniel’s drinking habits: 3 litre bottles of “Blue Lightening” cider, moderate strength, probably one per day. Daniel slept a lot, with his possessions dotted around him.

22nd February:

Local resident (village of Ditton) gave warden a big bag of clothes (including gloves) to give to Daniel, which he did. Found Daniel fully awake and pleased to see the warden. Community warden felt like he had gained Daniel’s trust, since he called him “mate”. Daniel had a bottle of alcohol with him, ½ full. There were signs that he was affected by the cold. Hard to see his condition since he had a beard and a large woolly hat. Warden states that there were around 40 empty cider bottles strewn about between the 2 cottages.

22nd-25th February:

Daniel’s movements largely unknown. Was seen begging at Sainsbury’s, where people gave him food (officer unsure where Daniel got his money from). Moved from the 1st to the 2nd bungalow, and left his wet clothes at the first place. However, throughout he was wearing the same clothes, eg a dark coat he always wore.


Second Community Warden (written statement):

8th February: Found Daniel surrounded by empty bottles of “Blue Diamond/ White Diamond” cider bottles; suggested he go to Gateway in Maidstone.

11th February: went with the Kent police to wake Daniel up. Due to his state, was taken to Maidstone hospital.

22nd February: was found asleep surrounded by rubbish, soiling, human defecation.


Hospital (A&E Notes)

January 2010: admitted with rib injury, with blood clots in lung

February 2010: chest infection, chest pains, cough

April 2010: sporadic visits, with lung problems, for which he was given antibiotics

7th December 2011: had head pains, when he banged it on a curb. Complaint of assault, had a nasal bone fracture.

31st August 2012: ankle injury from a push to the back; by 2012, he was registering as “no fixed abode”, whereas previously he had given a fixed address.

11th February 2013: Brought in by ambulance at 10:15am, “feeling unwell”. He had not eaten food for 4 days. Wrote a letter for his GP recommending that he be considered as priority need for emergency accommodation.


Housing Agency

23rd August 2012: Daniel had an interview with housing office. He was encouraged to fill out the housing registration forms for Kent housing waiting list. He was given details to get in contact with Porchlights Homeless services and Kent Homechoice, where he could “bid” for available housing. Daniel was not eligible for emergency accommodation, because he was not priority need or vulnerable. After he left, agency was not able to contact him again.


DI Booth, Kent Police CID (at the scene when Daniel’s body was found)

Coroner: “Was Daniel arrested on the 11th February with respect squatters at 196 London Road?” Boothe: “Don’t know as I don’t have his arrest record to hand.”

Police and CID called to the scene, to determine whether there was any sign of an assault or disturbance. Temperature was -1/ -2 degrees Celsius at 8m in the morning. Found cider bottles, clothing and undisturbed undergrowth. In his bag they found a hospital discharge band, clothes, Amoxisciline (1 tablet left). Daniel’s “living arrangements were in a very poor condition”. Also found a duvet, more clothes, sleeping bag, all damp, dirty, “nothing felt dry”. Appeared that he had got up during the night to urinate (Coroner: “or take his clothes off”) and passed out. No signs of assault. Hermitage Lane is on the main road, near the hospital, and opposite are fields (exposed); the night of Daniel’s death, temperatures of -4 degrees Celsius. All the signs of a hypothermic death.

Photographs (described by Coroner, not shown): bottles of Budweiser, cider bottles, cans. Piece of tarpauline (blue plastic) draped over the bannister of the veranda, not tied down, very poor shelter.


Housing Options (written statement):

The Local Authority has no statutory obligation to house rough sleepers, only there to provide advice. However, emergency accommodation is provided to rough sleepers in times of severe weather. The trigger is when it has been 0 degrees Celsius for 3 consecutive nights; temperatures are checked daily, and when they rise, rough sleepers told to vacate emergency accommodation the same day. Emergency accommodation is usually B&B placements outside of the immediate area.


Statement of the Gauntlett Family (Father):

By the end, Daniel had made the decision to sleep rough. He came home from time to time to ask for money. Daniel had been a builder, had a girlfriend and 2 children. When Daniel’s brother was killed, he took it hard and started drinking. Eventually, Daniel’s girlfriend took their children back to her hometown. Daniel still lived in their house, sold everything, didn’t pay the rent and was eventually evicted from his home. Daniel “didn’t care whether he lived or died” and “had given up”. Been drinking for a long time, had a collapsed lung and frequent chest infections. For a while he was living in a caravan, was seeing a lady, got off the drink, but then suddenly started again and found himself homeless. Daniel became “fully homeless” around January 2012. Daniel made no attempt to become housed, and the doctors could not help unless he asked for it. On Thursday 7th February 2013, came to the family home with no coat or clothes, looked cold. Wearing a basic shell suite/ “flimsy”. Daniel said that he had been arrested by the police, who had taken all his clothes for forensic tests. Asked his father for some money to buy clothes, to which his father complied. Although Daniel promised to come back, he did not.


Community Warden (Private Interview Notes)

The incident at 196 London Road: the house was being used by two young adults (“kids”) who were suspected to being “missing persons”. The police claim that two adults were seen entering the premises, and from descriptions, they thought one might be Daniel. The young adults squatting the building were later apprehended by the police, but then dropped off the radar. When the two police arrived with the community warden, they found Daniel in a poor state and called an ambulance. They were talking to Daniel for 5-7 minutes before the ambulance arrived.

In general the police in the area are “sympathetic” with rough sleepers. When they find rough sleepers in the building, they tell them that when “they come back, they need to be gone”. There is an understanding that this means leave or face arrest. Rough sleepers use buildings for between one and several nights and then leave. The buildings are considered “dangerous” and unsafe for people to live in. The buildings on Hermitage Lane are old farm cottages that have been “around for a long time”. They had been derelict for 5+ years. Gradually became vacant, and the last resident left recently. They are planned for demolition and a new industrial estate built in their place.


Coroner’s Findings:

Daniel was born on 11th July 1977 in Maidstone. He died relatively young. After the death of his brother, he developed an addiction to alcohol and lost everything. In 2012, he became homeless, but he did not engage with the “services”. He was drinking a 3 litre bottle of cider a day, and when he went to A&E, he did not stay around for medical treatment. The combination of cold weather and alcohol was lethal. On the night of 23rd – 24th February 2013, temperatures dropped to -4 degrees Celsius, and with inadequate shelter, Daniel Gauntlett died of hypothermia. Daniel had been “neglecting himself”, and therefore, a verdict of death by hypothermia contributed to by “self-neglect”.