The grieving mother of Tommy Blackmore, the 20-year-old killed after an incident near Tower Bridge last month, was left distraught after receiving a letter mistakenly asking for £17.33 of overpaid housing benefits just six days after his death.
The blunt letter, dated June 19, stated that “because Tommy Blackmore has passed away”, Maureen Blackmore had been overpaid during the previous week.
Tommy’s death on June 13 was callously referred to as a “change of occupancy” and a “change in circumstances” in the letter, which also included a short message of condolence, before quickly moving onto methods of repayment.
It later transpired that Maureen did not actually owe any money to the council, and that the letter had been sent to her in error.
Cllr Anood Al-Samerai, leader of Southwark Lib Dems, described the incident as “insensitive” and “threatening.”
She told the News: “The council must urgently sort this out. Not only for this family, who were sent an insensitive and incorrect letter six days after their son was killed, but for every other bereaved family.
“The council must always put a stop on threatening letters if someone has died and deal with any rent or financial issues in a kinder, more human way.”
The council issued a full apology for the “error in judgement” in sending the letter to the grieving family so soon after the “tragedy”,
Cllr Fiona Colley, Southwark Cabinet Member for Finance, Strategy and Performance: “On behalf of the council I would like to wholeheartedly apologise to Mrs Blackmore and her family. After the tragedy of Tommy’s death, she should not have had to deal with a letter of this sort.
“This can only be explained as a complete error of judgement on the part of an officer, and we will urgently be reviewing our training and processes to ensure something like this cannot happen again.”
In a statement given to the News, Maureen praised the “community spirit” of those who had helped her family since Tommy’s death.
She said: “I would like to thank all my friends and neighbours for their amazing support – especially the families of Kim, Joanne, Maria and Debbie.
“The community spirt has been truly overwhelming, a true testament to the impact Tommy made. I am so proud to call him my son.”
Tommy passed away after an incident in Queen Elizabeth Street on June 13. Police were called at 02.35 and found the Rotherhithe resident “critically injured”. He was rushed to hospital by ambulance but was pronounced dead soon after arrival.
A 28-year-old man, Lloyd Smythe of Tabard Gardens Estate, Borough, has been charged with murder. He has been remanded in custody and will appear at Central Criminal Court on November 29.