Antony Breeze set himself on fire after being harassed by payday loan companies
Father dies in fireball after being chased by payday loan companies over £ 1,600
- Antony Breeze, 36, from Bolton, died saying: ‘I’ve had enough’
- Investigations revealed he owed several loan companies money
- Investigation heard he often had to borrow money to make ends meet
- In the hour before his death, Mr Breeze received text messages from three of them
Antony Breeze with his partner Amanda Lowe. Investigation learned how Mr Breeze, 36, of Horwich, Bolton, set himself on fire after getting into debt with payday loan companies
A debt-ridden father doused himself in gasoline and turned into a human fireball after being harassed for money by payday loan companies.
Antony Breeze, 36, died after setting himself on fire, telling passers-by trying to put out the flames: “I’ve had enough.”
In the hours leading up to the tragedy, Mr Breeze, who owed around £ 1,600, was bombarded with text messages about his arrears, according to an investigation.
The next day he went out telling his girlfriend that he was going to get gasoline for a lawn mower.
Minutes later he was found screaming and burning on a trail.
He was so worried about debts that he lost a stone of weight in just two weeks, relatives said.
Mr. Breeze and his nine-year-old partner, Amanda Lowe, had a six-year-old daughter, Amy, and were planning to marry.
Police investigating his death discovered that he owed money to several lenders, including Keyes Whitlock and Co, Mobile Money Ltd, 247 Moneybox.com, Cash Genie and Valor Loans.
Miss Lowe said that the day before his death, on August 3 of last year, he received a flood of calls and texts from loan companies, although he refused to tell him which ones were harassing him.
She added: “He had calls all Thursday night, his phone never stopped ringing, he didn’t want to tell me who it was.
“He went to the bathroom.
The next day Mr Breeze played with Amy before going to withdraw £ 30 from an ATM.
He then went out again, telling Miss Lowe that he was getting fuel for his father’s mower.
While he was away, she called him to ask when he would be home.
She added: “He said he was going for a walk to clear his head. I didn’t ask what was wrong.
Mr Breeze bought £ 3 of gasoline from a can at a Texaco garage before heading to a secluded runway. Fifteen minutes later, electrician Paul Tunnah heard screams as Mr. Breeze emerged in a ball of fire.
Paul Tunnah (left) who tried to help Mr Breeze as he burned and Amanda Lowe (right) leaving Bolton Coroner’s Court after hearing details of her partner’s death
Workers in the garage at this Texaco gas station saw Mr. Breeze as he descended to an isolated runway
The path at the bottom of Gooch Street, Horwich, near Bolton where Mr. Breeze was found
Gooch Street, in Horwich, near Bolton, where he set himself on fire at 36 after becoming indebted to payday loan companies
AGGRESSIVE DEBT COLLECTORS OR GETTING OUT OF MONEY PROBLEMS?
Antony Breeze’s death comes at a time of fierce criticism of the payday lending industry.
Last week, two payday lenders were ordered to give up their business licenses after a crackdown by the Office of Fair Trading.
The OFT said it is also currently investigating three other payday loan companies for bad business practices and they may also be shut down. The OFT was unable to nominate them for legal reasons.
The Payday Loan Company Limited – which operates under several names, including Cashnet and Paydayloans.co.uk – and Anfield Check Cashing Center have both relinquished their consumer credit licenses and will no longer be able to trade.
Last month, the consumer organization sent letters to 50 major payday lenders asking them to take immediate action to revamp their businesses.
OFT accused companies of failing to conduct adequate assessments to see if applicants can afford loans, failing to explain how payments will be collected, failing to use debt collection techniques aggressive and not to treat borrowers with sensitivity and patience.
The Citizens Advice Bureau also accused lenders of pushing people into debt by failing to verify that borrowers can afford to repay the loan.
In a survey of 1,270 payday loan borrowers, with loans from 87 payday lenders, 65% of people were not asked about their financial situation when taking out, according to a CAB study.
Mr Tunnah, who was badly burned while trying to save Mr Breeze, said: “I took off my top to try and put out the flames.
“He was conscious from the moment I first saw him until he left in the ambulance.
“I asked him what happened and he said, ‘I’ve had enough. I am in debt and have spilled gasoline on myself.
“He said he wanted to see his daughter, but I said it would be cruel – at this point he was unrecognizable.”
Mr Breeze was rushed to hospital but died hours later from 73% burns.
The investigation in Bolton learned that loan companies then wrote to his father asking him to repay his debts.
Miss Lowe, from Horwich, told the hearing the couple had an argument in the week leading up to the tragedy but had resolved their issues.
His family said last night that Mr Breeze was also worried about losing his job as a driver for an engineering company.
His sister, Caroline Hedley, said: “He worked really hard. He worked six days a week.
But she added that he often borrowed money when he struggled to make ends meet.
Some debts were repaid by Miss Lowe’s father and Mr. Breeze is said to have consulted a debt counselor.
Recording an open verdict, Assistant Coroner Alan Walsh said: “He worked hard and provided for his family.
“But he was worried about the family’s finances.”
The news comes a week after the Office of Fair Trading asked two payday lenders to give up their business licenses.
He is also investigating three others for bad business practices and has written to 50 payday lenders asking them to review their practices.
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