By Trevor Baxter
A ROUGH sleeper who made Greenfield his home has left the area after his arrest for causing criminal damage.
Lee McCormac featured on the Saddleworth Independent’s website last month after good Samaritan Robert Mark from Carrbrook helped him move out of the derelict toilet block and bus shelter on Manchester Road into bed and breakfast accommodation in Tameside.
It was a heart-warming Christmas story for the many local people who had provided support during Lee’s near three-month stay, including premise owner Caroline Metcalfe who delayed her plans to turn the building into a cafe.
The site was boarded up after Lee’s departure in preparation for renovation work to start early in the New Year.
Instead, he returned between Christmas and New Year, tearing down one of two protective wooden panels.
He was then arrested but Caroline, former owner of Eden Florists in Uppermill, refused to press charges.
The Saddleworth Independent can confirm Lee has been the subject of restorative justice – no crime is recorded but offenders are urged to face up to what they have done and take responsibility for their actions.
And he is being urged to finally take advantage of offers of official help towards finding him more suitable, permanent accommodation.
Caroline and others who have given support hope this ‘softly-softly’ approach will help him confront personal demons that led to his current plight.
Explaining her actions during a lengthy debate on social media, Caroline wrote: “After Lee was given suitable accommodation in December, I thought the best plan was to board up the shelter.
“The main reason was for safety; the second as a deterrent for Lee to return, and continue the good work that was started by others and by Lee.
“It was only a week after this happened that I received a call from the police to say Lee had tried to gain entry once again.
“I decided not to press charges, just to ask for him to steer clear. On December 29, Lee managed to destroy the board put up and get in once again. I still haven’t pressed charges, against the advice of the police.
“There have been masses of people on board, not to mention local authorities, the police and public, all working together to find Lee suitable, safe housing, and more importantly the help Lee needs.
“This has been done, but sadly all of this help and assistance hinges on one enormous thing, that Lee ‘actually’ wants to help himself.”
After his arrest Lee, believed to have family in Manchester, again left the area. At the time of going to press the bus shelter remains unoccupied.