BBC drama to tell story of courier who took his own life over parking ticket debt
Jerome Rogers was being chased over unpaid penalties by bailiffs working for Camden Council
10 May, 2018 — By William McLennan
THE tragic case of a young motorbike courier who took his own life while being chased for unpaid traffic tickets by council-appointed debt collectors will be played out on TV screens.
Jerome Rogers, 20, was issued with two tickets by Camden Council while delivering medical supplies, but the debt spiralled out of control. He took his life shortly after a bailiff visited his home in March 2016.
The BBC3 factual drama, Killed by my Debt, is billed as depicting the “dangerous drawbacks of the gig economy and insecure jobs, the impact of traffic fines and the destructive power of debt”. Released later this month, it will explore the pressures faced by Mr Rogers after his debt snowballed to more than £1,000 when he failed to pay the fines.
A bailiff working for debt collector Newlyns, on behalf of the Town Hall, repeatedly visited his home in New Addington, Croydon. An inquest last year heard that, on the third visit, the bailiff clamped Mr Rogers’ motorbike, which was essential for him to earn a living, and said it would be auctioned off unless he could pay the debt.
While the bailiff waited in a van outside, Mr Rogers searched online for high-interest loans as well as ways to end his life. A short time later, he left his family home and walked into nearby woods, where he was found dead by his brother the following evening. Mr Rogers’ mother, Tracey, has worked alongside the BBC and StepChange, a debt counselling charity, to create the film.
After her son’s death, she said she would campaign for reforms to debt collection in the hope she could prevent other families suffering similar heartbreak.
She said: “Even if it just saves one or two lives of people who think: I don’t want to put my family through what this family have been through,” she said. “It’s just devastating, the ripple effect of it all.”
BBC3 controller Damian Kavanagh said: “This drama is an incredibly important British story and a devastating examination of the damage wrought on one family by low-income, unstable jobs and debt.”
Newcomer Chance Perdomo will play Jerome Roger, while Craig Parkinson, who starred as Matthew “Dot” Cottan in BBC hit Call Of Duty, plays the bailiff. Tom Walker, creator of YouTube character Jonathan Pie, plays Mr Rogers’ boss.
Camden Council said after the inquest it “would immediately suspend action on the warrant in order to investigate” if a debtor contacted them to say they were “facing financial hardship”. It added: “In this case, the coroner stated that the bailiff had acted both reasonably and according to the law.”
l For confidential support, call Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or visit samaritans.org. Free and confidential help with debt is provided by the Debt Advice Foundation on 0800 043 40 729.
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