Former agent admits failing to return £1,000 to Army vet

A FORMER lettings agent has admitted failing to return £1,000 meant to house a homeless Army veteran.

Brian Reaney said he kept money, which was raised by the Royal British Legion and the Royal Logistics Corps to house homeless veteran John McGrath, because the former soldier had caused damage in a property.

This is denied by Mr McGrath and was never mentioned to the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA), who had arranged for the money to be provided by the legion and the Army.

On Thursday the Adver reported that the association had taken care of the tenancy agreement for Mr McGrath, paying the deposit, first month’s rent and admin fees into an account in Mr Reaney’s name.

But the ground-floor flat never materialised.

The 48-year-old, who was working for Ferris Estates, which has since closed, said: “I’ve been to solicitors with reference to damage that’s been done. I can’t say any more, it’s data protection.”

SSAFA say Mr Reaney never told them of any problem before the contact numbers they had for him ceased to work, and in any case the money had been paid for a property Mr McGrath never moved into.

Though the Army Catering Corps veteran, who suffers from medical problems, was being housed in shared accommodation by Mr Reaney, the money was intended for a flat in Rodbourne.

After the shared accomodation fell through, Mr McGrath, 43, has had a flat arranged for him by Threshold Housing Link.

Mr Reaney said: “I’ve been in hospital since John finished the tenancy. When I get out of hospital I will deal with all of it. I will be contacting SSAFA to deal with it directly.

“I know morally where I stand, and that’s good enough for me. My conscience is clear.

“I haven’t broken the law, I’ve been helping with a business someone else started up. I wasn’t even the person who started the business.”

On Thursday the Adver reported that paperwork from Ferris Estates carried a stamp suggesting it belonged to The Property Ombudsman Scheme, though the organisation could find no record of the company ever having been a member.

Mr Reaney said: “I didn’t get the paperwork printed. My understanding was that we paid an annual fee to the buggers and that was it. It’s not even a mandatory organisation.”

l Mr Reaney is due to appear at Swindon Magistrates’ Court on April 25 on a charge of assault at his former offices alleged to have taken place in August, which is unrelated to the disagreement with SSAFA and Mr McGrath.

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