A man who was banned from a Greater Manchester homeless shelter has been jailed after hurling racist and homophobic comments and threatening staff. Greater Manchester Police says Joe Wharton had already been barred from The Town House, in Ashton-under-Lyne, when he returned to the Burlington Street building on Tuesday evening (June 14).
When he was asked to leave the site, the 26-year-old soon turned abusive – using slurs and threatening to injure a staff member’s head by stamping on it. Wharton, of no fixed abode, appeared at Tameside Magistrates Court this morning (Thursday) charged with racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress, and intention to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
He pleaded guilty to both charges and was sentenced to six weeks in prison. A spokesperson for GMP Tameside said: “On Tuesday evening, Wharton attended at The Town House on Burlington Street, Ashton, where he had previously been banned from.
“When asked to leave by staff, he became verbally abusive, making homophobic comments and threats to stamp on the victim’s head. He left he site, but returned a short time later where he made further comments, some of a racial nature.
“Officers from GMP Tameside’s North neighbourhood policing team at Ashton attended the location and arrested Wharton. He was taken into custody and interviewed in relation to these allegations, following which he was charged with the two offences.
“Wharton was remanded in custody to appear at Tameside Magistrates Court this morning, where he pleaded guilty to the charges and was handed a six-week prison sentence.” People who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in Tameside can be referred to The Town House.
As well as a shelter for rough sleepers, the site is home to a dedicated team of staff who support people with a range of needs, before using their links with accommodation providers to secure them a home of their own. Last month, the Manchester Evening Newsvisited the facility to see how it was changing people’s lives.
Each person through the door is assigned a key worker and has an assessment of their needs – from checking whether they have benefits in place and a GP assigned, to issues such as relationship problems, childhood trauma or addiction. Key workers include staff with plenty of experience in social work, as well as workers who can draw on their own experiences to help others.
Tony Andrews was one of the many people who was supported by The Town House after falling into hardship due to coronavirus. The 35-year-old was a casual worker in the events security industry – but with no work in lockdown, he was unable to make ends meet.
He told the M.E.N. : “I had gone from earning about £1,500 a month to not having any work at all, furlough wasn’t offered to people in casual employment. It destroyed my life.
“Because I was under 35, my benefits did not cover rent and bills, so I couldn’t keep the property. A friend of mine got in contact with The Town House team and to be honest, if it was not for them I would be screwed.”