A LONG-SERVING Bradford councillor has demanded a public inquiry into how a convicted killer was allowed to be housed in residential flats – where a high proportion of the residents were elderly.
Last week, Bradford Crown Court heard how James Callaghan barricaded himself into his flat in New Line, Greengates, shortly before 7.30am on February 2 last year, causing 12 hours of massive disruption.
In 2009, he admitted axing a grandmother to death while on a drunken rampage after losing at computer games in Hull.
Social housing landlord Incommunities said it provides homes in line with “government allocation policy”.
Critics pointed out that the flats were historically for those aged 55, meaning a large number of older residents live there to this day. But Incommunities said the flats have been for those aged over 18 for several years now.
Idle and Thackley Ward Councillor Jeanette Sunderland has plenty of questions to ask as to how and why this man ended up in Bradford.
She said: “Clearly this is someone who should not have been housed in those flats.
“Why was he housed there and how has he been transferred from Hull?
“What was the support mechanism in place for his safety and the community’s?
“There needs to be a full public inquiry
“It was a serious incident that needs a serious review.
“Clearly something has gone wrong.”
In the course of the huge stand-off, armed police, firefighters and gas and electricity workers were called to the scene as irate Callaghan smashed windows and said he’d rip off the boiler and blow the place up.
Prosecutor Jayne Beckett told how Callaghan, 31, a paranoid schizophrenic, claimed to be armed with a sawn-off shotgun, a Colt 45 revolver and a bow and arrow.
The court heard that he was sent to a high-security mental hospital in 2009 for offences of manslaughter and wounding.
After his release, he was convicted of threatening behaviour and criminal damage in 2019 and sentenced to a community order by Bradford and Keighley magistrates.
The Telegraph & Argus has received messages detailing how Callaghan caused misery to some residents in the flats.
Elderly and disabled people were evacuated from their homes in their nightwear in the winter, including a cancer sufferer aged 98 in a wheelchair.
Gaynor Levitt received a phone call saying her disabled 80-year-old mother had been left on the street.
She said: “Mum was not the only one. There were a few older ladies.
“One lady on the street took everyone in until it had ended.
“But my mum never recovered from all the stress and she was taken poorly and passed away.
“He was always nice to my mum but there was always a chance he would have a meltdown.
“Why put a young lad above a 80-year-old woman?”
There was loud music and people coming and going.
“Mum was a nervous wreck. My brother had to stop with her because she refused to give her flat up.”
Judge Rose said Callaghan had had significant mental health issues for many years and the events of February 2 last year were not just criminal acts.
The judge made an indefinite Hospital Order with a restriction. Callaghan will only be let out when it was considered safe to do so.
Alun Griffiths echoed his fellow Idle and Thackley Ward councillor’s thoughts on the situation.
He added: “This was a very upsetting and distressing incident for the people in the area.
“It is concerning and many questions need to be answered.
“People have a right to be released from detention but how well was he supervised upon his release from hospital?
“He was clearly unwell from his previous convictions, he should have been monitored.
“Did something go wrong during that monitoring? Was he being lodged in an appropriate accommodation?
“These are my concerns.”
A spokesperson from Incommunities said: “We can’t comment on the particular circumstances of the former tenant, however, as a social housing provider, we provide homes in line with government allocation policy that are affordable to those who have a housing need.
“The flats on New Line, Bradford were historically for those aged 55 years of age and over but are now for those over 18 years, and that has been the case for several years.”
The Telegraph & Argus approached both the Ministry of Justice probation service and NHS England for a comment.