A woman who was scared of being made homeless again took part in a ‘disgraceful episode’ of violence when bailiffs tried to seize her family’s canal boat home.
But a year after her partner and his son had been jailed for their roles in the incident at Brownsover Mooring in Rugby, Kayley Lakey was given a suspended prison sentence.
Lakey, 45, and her partner Sekou Tucker, of Macquarie Way, East London, and his son David Tucker had all pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to a charge of affray.
In May last year Sekou Tucker, 58, was jailed for nine months and David Tucker (20) from Bethnal Green, London, who also admitted an offence of making threats to kill, for 14 months.
On that occasion sentence on Lakey was adjourned, and a warrant was issued for her arrest when she later failed to attend court, and she was arrested earlier this year.
After ten weeks in custody on remand, she was sentenced to 12 months suspended for 18 months, with a rehabilitation activity, and was ordered to do 90 hours of unpaid work.
At the original hearing prosecutor Peter Cooper said: “It was a boat-related incident as the Canal and River Trust sought to remove and confiscate two boats in the use of the defendants.”
One was a cruiser called Misty, occupied by Sekou Tucker and Lakey, while the other boat, Ursa Major, was used by David Tucker - and both were unlicensed and unlawfully on the waterways.
After notices asking the owners to get in touch with the Trust and to remove the boats were ignored, formal notices were served in November 2016 warning they would be removed by the Trust if they were not taken from the water.
A solicitor’s letter in February 2017 explained the CRT’s right to remove the boats, and when nothing was done to comply, court orders were obtained and served on the boats in June.
When the boats were found at Brownsover Visitor Mooring in November that year, CRT employees, bailiffs and the police attended to implement the seizure.
But Sekou emerged from Misty and told them: “You’re not taking these boats. I’m not giving them up. You’ll need an army to take these boats.”
David then emerged from the smaller boat and joined his father on Misty, threatening: “Somebody will die today.”
And from inside the boat, Lakey could be heard shouting: “We’re not moving, you’re not taking this boat.”
She then came on deck, shouting at a female CRT employee: “F*** you bitch, you’re not removing me from this boat. I’m going to take a knife to you. I’m going to stab you and throw you in the canal.”
Because of the threats, more officers and a police negotiating team were called in, but as they tried to reason with him, Sekou threatened to set fire to anyone who came on board.
“David joined in, threatening to kill any officer by knifing them or setting them on fire, and he was holding a petrol can in one hand, shaking it, and a lighter in the other, and Lakey threatened to set herself alight,” said Mr Cooper.
A police tactical unit used a crowbar to force entry, but it was grabbed and swung it at them, and one officer had to use his riot shield to deflect a knife that was swung towards him.
Having backed off, the officers finally ended the siege by smashing the windows and aiming incapacitant sprays at the occupants, who were then removed from the boat and arrested.
Jack Wright, for Lakey, pointed out she had no previous convictions, and had spent ten weeks in custody since her arrest on the warrant, and before getting the boats had been homeless.
“She has a personality disorder which perhaps made it more difficult for her to cope with the situation she found herself in and the prospect of further homelessness,” he added.
Sentencing Lakey, Judge Peter Cooke told her: “Your involvement in this disgraceful episode undoubtedly passes the custody threshold.
“But I accept you position is mitigated by the fact that there was an element of peer pressure you were put under by your two male co-defendants.
“There was also a genuine fear of losing your home, a prospect which was particularly alarming for you, because before having got the houseboat you had spent a period of homelessness.”