Page last updated at 19:32 GMT, Monday, 8 September 2008 20:32 UK

Rapist sues landlady from prison

Melody Goymer
Melody Goymer cleared the flat of Thomas Cope's belongings

A hairdresser has said she hopes to appeal after a convicted rapist sued her from jail when she cleared out the flat he rented above one of her salons.

Thomas Cope, 55, disappeared eight months after moving into the flat above Melody Goymer's salon in Hailsham, near Eastbourne, East Sussex.

He had been arrested for the rape of a 19-year-old woman and was jailed for life at Hove Crown Court in 2007.

A judge last week ruled that Mrs Goymer had unlawfully terminated his contract.

Cope sued Mrs Goymer, 60, in a publicly-funded case while serving his sentence on the Isle of Wight.

Spend thousands

She says she faces financial ruin after the judge at Eastbourne County Court awarded him 750 in damages plus costs.

Cope's lawyer is claiming 13,000 and Mrs Goymer's own legal costs are 5,000.

Mrs Goymer said she will also have to spend thousands of pounds renovating and decorating her property.

"The flat was in a terrible state," she said.

"There was no electricity on, so all the food in the fridge and freezer had gone off.

"It looked as though someone had done a runner and left everything there."

Flat above Melody Ann hairdressing salon
The flat is above a hairdressing salon in Hailsham run by Mrs Goymer

Mrs Goymer packed up Cope's belongings and is still paying bills of 60 a month to keep them in storage.

She said she was furious he was able to sue her.

"First I was upset, then angry, to think that someone like him can actually use public money to sue somebody else and basically make money out of his crime," she said.

Property lawyer Peter Daniels said he had some sympathy for Mrs Goymer.

"But it is tempered with the fact that she should really have sought legal advice on what she was about to do," he said.

"The law is there to protect people from landlords taking hasty action."

Mrs Goymer said she checked out her tenant's references before he moved in.

It later came to light he was first jailed for rape in 1976 and has further convictions for rape, attempted rape and indecent assault.

"It makes me go cold, because I had young girls working in the shop underneath," she said.

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