The mother of two children who were stabbed to death by her husband says she fears being made homeless, after callous benefit bosses stopped her disability benefits – despite knowing about the severe trauma she had experienced and how it has severely affected her mental health.
June Martin, who has been diagnosed as suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression, was deemed by the Department for Work and Pensions as being ineligible for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), following an assessment by Independent Assessment Service – formerly known as Atos Healthcare.
An independent tribunal later upheld the decision. A spokesperson explained: “Whilst the tribunal accepts Ms Martin has mental health problems and balance problems, the nature and extent of the resulting limitations are insufficient to score the required number of points.
“As a result Ms Martin does not qualify for either component of Personal Independent Payment.”
However, June has questioned the accuracy and fairness of the PIP assessment process.
The assessor only “wanted to know if I could spell ‘world’ backwards and hold my arms above my head”, she told the Sunday Post.
“I’ve been treated like some kind of scrounger and put on trial, although I’ve done nothing wrong.
“My former husband, who murdered our children, doesn’t have to worry about keeping a roof over his head or where his next meal is coming from but now I do.
“I’ve been made to feel a burden on society. Maybe it would be better if I wasn’t here.”
June’s former husband, Rab Thomson, was found guilty of the murders of 25-year-old Michelle and 7-year-old Ryan and given a life sentence in 2008.
June has understandably struggled to move past this traumatic ordeal. She had been in receipt of £55.10 a week in disability benefits prior to being reassessed for PIP.
“Neither the assessor or the tribunal last week seemed to want to know about the trauma I suffer daily reliving finding my children posed as if they were asleep in their beds, or pulling back the covers to find them stabbed to death,” she said.
“I’ve battled so very hard to try and go on, but I’ve had to accept I’ll never get over finding my babies murdered, their blood on the walls and over their toys and teddy bears.
“My disabilities are invisible. They cannot be tested by spelling a word backwards or holding my arms above my head.
“Questions were thrown at me, one after the other. I couldn’t think straight to answer them properly. I’m a mess. I don’t stand up well to questioning. I just blurt things out and I panic.
“I’d written on the official forms that my children were murdered and I found them, but I don’t remember being questioned about that or my inability to live anything like a normal life.”
She also argues that the assessor and DWP failed to take into account how her mental health fluctuates from day to day.
“I don’t know from one day to the other how I will feel, sometimes from one hour to the other”, she said.
“I can get up and go to the supermarket for a loaf of bread one day, but if I hear a child crying it takes me back to the murder scene.
“A smell, a song, someone laughing like my Michelle used to laugh, brings it all back and I have to run away from it.”
She now fears losing her flat “because I can’t keep up the £35 a week I have to find to make up the difference to housing benefit”.
“I must have moved over a dozen times because I haven’t been able to settle somewhere I feel safe”, she explained.
“Just when I finally found a little peace and somewhere I can feel safe, I fear it’s all going to be taken from me now.
“I’ve tried far too many times to take my own life because I just feel there is nothing for me to live for and this has left me feeling like that again.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “This is a sensitive and distressing set of circumstances and our thoughts remain with Ms Martin.
“We will continue to ensure Ms Martin is receiving all the benefits she is entitled to and gets the support she needs.”