Gatwick Airport - perfect hangout for the homeless?

Gerrard Winstanley office at
Wed Feb 20 01:44:13 GMT 2008

Homeless chef lived in Gatwick airport for three years - only leaving
to pick up his dole money
By DAVID WILKES - More by this author ยป 19th February 2008
On arrival at the airport terminal, most of us can't wait to get away.

But Anthony Delaney liked it so much he stayed for three years.

The homeless 43-year-old ate, showered and slept at Gatwick, leaving
only to pick up his Jobseeker's Allowance, a court heard yesterday.

His bizarre lifestyle echoed the plot of the Steven Spielberg-directed
movie The Terminal, which stars Tom Hanks as an immigrant living at
New York's JFK airport.

Scroll down for more...

Crashing on the concourse: Tom Hanks in a scene from the 2004 Steven
Spielberg movie, The Terminal

Lewes Crown Court was told that Delaney moved into Gatwick's South
Terminal in 2004 after losing his job as a chef and falling on hard times.

His presence did not go unnoticed and he was stopped by security staff
more than 30 times. Even when he was barred under airport authority
bylaws in March 2005, he continued to return.

He was made the subject of an Asbo the following year banning him from
Gatwick for five years, but repeatedly ignored it.

On one of the three occasions when he was jailed for breaching the
order, he served 95 days then returned to the airport as soon as he
was released.

After Delaney this week admitted yet another breach of the Asbo, Judge
Richard Hayward remanded him in custody until March 10 for sentencing
reports, believing his urge to return to Gatwick would be too strong
should he be released.

The judge said: "It is a bit cheeky to go straight back to Gatwick.
There are other places you can have a shower. This is going on and on.
It is all very strange."

But the judge rejected advice to have Delaney kept in prison, ordering
the probation service to find him a home.

Sitting room: Homeless chef Anthony Delaney used the airport as his
home and the waiting areas as his living areas

He added: "If I am to believe what I read in my Sunday papers, the
prison population is currently at crisis point.

"So why do we keep adding to the problem, sending this man to prison,
just for having a shower at the airport? It seems rather ridiculous.

"There must be something we can do to help him, or this situation will
just go on and on."

The court heard that Delaney, who appeared smartly dressed in the
dock, does not suffer from mental health issues and is not addicted to
drugs or alcohol.

Peter Knight, defending, said Delaney's old job in Buckinghamshire was
"well paid" and his employers provided accommodation.

When he lost it, he moved back to Sussex, where he has lived most of
his life, but found it difficult to support himself or find a job
without a permanent address.

"He started using the facilities at the airport out of desperation,
and has become trapped in a cycle of misfortune.

"When he is released from custody, it is usually in the middle of the
night and he has nowhere to go, so he retreats back to the airport.

"But as soon as he is spotted, he gets taken back into custody - and
so it goes on. Mr Delaney has been using the airport to stay clean,
dry and warm.

"He doesn't go there to kick up a stink or make a nuisance of himself.
He just needs somewhere he can have a shower.

"He desperately wants to set himself up for the future - to find a job
and somewhere to live.

"But for someone in his situation, it's easier said than done."

Paul Young, founder of the Brighton-based homeless charity Off the
Fence, said: "It's sad when someone feels sleeping in an airport is
the only option.

"However it is understandable when the weather is so cold on the streets.

"I'm surprised he got away with it for so long. He almost has
squatters rights after that length of time."

In The Terminal, Hanks plays an Eastern European tourist who becomes a
resident of the airport when a war breaks out and erases his country
from the map, voiding his passport.

It was inspired by the true story of an Iranian refugee who lived at
Paris Charles de Gaulle airport from 1988 until 2006, when illness
forced his departure.

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