A disabled former nurse who has been living with depression, anxiety and crippling pain from a 37-year-old spinal injury, was thrown into further trauma of homelessness and alleged discrimination this afternoon on returning to her Warrens Park North, St Michael apartment.
When the wheelchair-bound, middle-aged Coral Wilkinson, accompanied by two family members, found the lock to her apartment had been changed by the landlady Onada Busby who lives in the apartment above her. She had just come back home from seeing her lawyer over a dispute with the landlady.
But the apparent eviction has nothing to do with unpaid rent but with her disability, she claimed.
A Barbados TODAY team found a distraught Wilkinson sitting in her wheelchair in the verandah unable to enter the home to take any of her four different types of medication, without which could send her into a serious health tailspin.
“I have to take . . . one for my hands which feel like they are on fire, one for depression, one for anxiety and one to sleep,” she said as her voice broke. She had already missed the 2 p.m. drug and needed to take others at 10 tonight and 6 tomorrow morning. It was already past 4 o’clock.
The issue behind Wilkinson’s lockout started to unfold as she continued to engage Barbados TODAY and a later conversation with police officers who were summoned to the apartment to investigate her eviction complaint.
“This has nothing to do with rent. The rent is there, but she would not come for it. She said she ain’t want me around the place because I am disabled . . . she doesn’t want me falling down,” the tenant said.
It was the second time officers had been summoned to the apartment over her report that Busby had padlocked the gate to the driveway that allows wheelchair access.
Up to the time that Barbados TODAY left the scene, the gate was still locked, forcing Wilkinson to use another gate with the aid of relatives, but she was still not able to gain entry to her home.
The former Queen Elizabeth Hospital nurse, who has had to undergo a series of surgeries in Britain to correct the spinal injury to the neck that affects the proper use of her hands and feet, admitted the landlady had served her notice three weeks ago to get out the apartment within a month.
After speaking with Wilkinson, a senior police officer later spoke to the landlady, advising her to allow her tenant access the apartment.
The officer then informed Busby – after consulting with an assistant commissioner, who is an attorney as well as a sitting magistrate – that her actions were unlawful because she was required to follow the correct process of taking the eviction notice to court so it could issue an order based on the available evidence.
But it was the landlady’s own lawyer, Erskine Hinds, who advised her to lock out Wilkinson – as he himself confirmed to the police by telephone, as observed by the Barbados TODAY team.
The police sargeant on the scene told Barbados TODAY: “A report was made that Ms Wilkinson was locked out of her home. I came, I spoke to the landlady and advised her according to the law that she cannot lock the lady out of the apartment like that, there must be a court process. A court process meaning that she has to take the lease agreement, the documents that had been served upon her . . . take it to the court and let the court make a decision.
“She said she spoke to her attorney and her attorney advised her to take possession of the apartment. I can’t do anything more.”
When Barbados TODAY sought a response from Busby she declined to speak. Her attorney also declined to discuss the case when we called him on the phone stating he was about to go and speak with someone.
Before Barbados TODAY left the apartment this evening, Wilkinson was more concerned about not being able to get her medication than where she would spend the night. She said she expected to overnight with relatives.