A PENSIONER who was dragged out of his property in an early-morning eviction today (Tues) said he had already lodged an appeal with the High Court.

John Petch - known as Husky - has lived in, and housed his collection of vintage machinery, in council-owned outbuildings in Dormanstown, Redcar, for 15 years.

This morning, just after 5am, High Court sheriffs arrived to remove him from the building, despite Mr Petch having lodged an appeal against the eviction.

One supporter was arrested by police for obstructing a High Court sheriff. About 20 police officers and 20 of Husky's supporters were at the scene.

The council leased him the buildings after they issued an enforcement order to remove his machinery from his own nearby garden several years ago following a complaint from a neighbour - but say the outbuildings are now unsafe.

One supporter, Andrea Turner, said sheriffs used a battering ram to barge down the fence this morning before physically removing Mr Petch, while he struggled and screamed.

The Northern Echo:
EVICTED: 'Husky' outside the industrial compound today

She said: "I have never in my born days experienced anything as brutal to a small man like that. He was screaming "let go of me, let go of me" and they were physically pulling him down by the arms.

WARNING: Video contains strong language

Mr Petch said: "There were two sheriffs, about six foot tall, and I am only four foot six. I was up my ladder and tied to it. They were pulling me down and prising my fingers off the top of the fence."

High court sheriffs tried to evict Mr Petch last month but the 66-year-old had refused to let them in.

Mrs Turner said Mr Petch, who had health problems including a stroke earlier this year, was “very shaken” after being removed.

Mr Petch has been locked in legal battles with Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council over the property for several years.

He started living in the outbuildings to keep an eye on his vintage tractors and farm machinery and effectively abandoned the home he owns, on The Green nearby.

George Dunning, leader of Redcar & Cleveland Council, said the council had acted appropriately and the action was a "last resort".

He said efforts had been made to resolve the conflict and Mr Petch had shown "no interest at all in potential alternative sites".

He said: "My duty is to the people of the borough, not just Mr Petch, and that site is unsafe. If someone got in and hurt themselves the council would be liable."

But Mr Petch and his supporters claimed no firm offers of alternative sites had been made by the council.