Offer of interview coaxes Ipswich roof protest man down

An Ipswich Star reporter used the offer of an interview to help coax a man down from a rooftop protest.

The 38-year-old man, who hasn’t been named, was protesting against his treatment from local social workers. He took to the roof of St Edmund House at 4.20am and at around 6am police set up a cordon around the building – with the Archant Suffolk title receiving a tip-off from a member of the public two hours later.

Star reporter Elliot Furniss, who arrived at the scene shortly before 8am, said: ‘After getting a call to the newsroom, I made my way to the scene. Little did I know that an hour later, I would be in the back of a police van talking to the man at the centre of the incident.

‘I saw the man, equipped with sandwiches, a flask of tea, a tarpaulin, some cigarettes, a sleeping bag and ‘STOP DESTROYING FAMILYS’ banner, on the roof of the entrance and perched on the porch of St Edmund House.

‘Drivers caught up in rush-hour traffic slowed down to see what the drama was all about. Office workers had the best view of the event as they watched the episode unfold from the upper floors of St Edmund House.

‘I told police that the paper could put across his side of the story and they thanked me as they said that could be used to encourage him down.

‘It seemed to work as he made his way down and spoke to me in the back of a police van.

‘During the interview, the man said he thought his family had been failed by the authorities. He said he was protesting about the fact that a child within his extended family was subject of an adoption hearing following a lengthy legal battle,’said Elliot.

The man was then taken into custody and take to Martlesham Police Investigation Centre. He was later charged with using threatening words and behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress and was released on bail ahead of a court appearance on May 14 at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court in Ipswich.

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