16 Feb 19
The Scottish Sun
IT was the scene that made a corner of Britain look like a Dickensian slum when a couple claimed they were so poor that they were forced to hunt for rabbits and moles for dinner.
Nathan Kerr and Abbey Atkinson, who appeared on Channel 4’s Skint Britain: Friends Without Benefits this week, whinged and moaned as they were seen hunting with their dog, catching a rabbit which they skinned and cooked.
Kerr threatened to give our reporter a beating when we visited him this week
But Sun Online can reveal that far from being a victim of circumstance, Nathan is a convicted woman beater, who stole from his pregnant ex.
Residents of Hartlepool, County Durham, have reacted furiously at the way the former drug dealer has portrayed their town as “the back of beyond” and branded the 24-year-old a liar and a “nasty little fantasist”.
Locals say Nathan and his family have dragged the town’s reputation through the mud and insist that the majority of benefits claimants in the town “struggle on with dignity.”
Sun Online spoke to an ex girlfriend and former neighbours who say Nathan is a “shiftless bully” who trades on a false reputation of being a reformed drug dealer – and when we approached him he was quick to deny he’d ever been forced to eat rabbits… and threatened us with a plank of wood.
Please can we note that skint Britain is not a true representation of Hartlepool… we have jobs and don’t hunt rabbits with our raggy dogs 👍🏻🤮
— Abbi Hewitson (@AbHewitson) February 13, 2019
When the show aired on Wednesday, Twitter was alight with comments from locals about the notorious family.
Nicola Boughey posted: “Those weren’t real, genuine people struggling. There are nice people in this town and nice areas, this was just a showing up! Who skins a rabbit on the table? Go to a food bank!”
Diane Kennedy added: “No balance whatsoever – 99 per cent of claimants in this town struggle on quietly with dignity. It’s this majority that need representing!”
A secret woman beater who stole from pregnant ex
Although Nathan and Abbey appear to be a devoted couple fighting adversity together on the programme, he was fined £150 for assaulting her in 2017 and slapped with a restraining order that he went on to breach.
Kayleigh Melles was heavily pregnant when Nathan Kerr stole £60 from her
Nathan also stole from his heavily pregnant ex-girlfriend Kayleigh Melles in 2013 and was given 12 months probation and 40 hours unpaid work by magistrates.
The court heard he stole £60 from her in order to pay off a debt to a drug dealer.
Kayleigh, 28, of Darlington, Co Durham, told us: “He moved into my home for 12 months and it was the longest year of my life.
“I saw on the show Nathan bragging that he used to be a drug dealer when in fact he was always on the run from real drug dealers that he owed money to.
Nathan told our reporters he had never caught a rabbit and eaten it
A street in Hartlepool, where Skint Britain was filmed
Abbey Atkinson also featured in the show
“Whilst he was living with me we had our windows smashed and a warning message scratched into the path of our home, I lived in fear of the trouble he brought to my door.
“We have a little girl together and I dread the day that she asks about her father and sees who he is and what he’s become.
“Back when he was 18 he looked fairly presentable and cared about the way he dressed. Now he’s out hunting moles and skinning rabbits. It’s absolutely unbelievable the way that he lives.
“A lot of people are hard up, genuine cases who still manage to budget so that they have food and gas and electricity.
Nathan and girlfriend Abbey take dog Twister to hunt rabbits in the show
Local residents blasted Nathan as a ‘nasty little fantasist’
“The only way I got rid of him was to drive him back to Hartlepool, leave him with his family and drive away.
“He’s never worked a day in his life or paid a penny towards his daughter but I want nothing from him – I have a loving, caring decent man now who picked up the pieces of what Nathan left behind.”
‘He’s a nasty little fantasist’
But it’s not just Nathan’s ex who thinks he’s duped the nation.
A former neighbour said: “He comes from a massive family and they like to make out that they’re gangsters who run the whole neighbourhood, but he’s a nasty little fantasist.
“Together they are intimidating though and even the police don’t like to cross them. For that programme to focus on him drags the reputation of the whole town through the mud.”
Barber Zana Ahmed, 33, added: “The show gives the impression that drink and drugs are a normal part of life in Hartlepool and that’s a terrible message for young children around here to get.”
Landlord and business owner Javeed Rasul, 54, owns dozens of houses in the Victoria ward.
He said: “Universal Credit has hit my tenants hard. They claim they are waiting to get their money once a month and by the time it arrives they’re in debt and rent arrears. It’s had a definite effect and people are struggling more than I have seen before.”
Paddy has had to lend money to neighbours who are struggling to feed themselves
Bev said she didn’t know of anyone else who had been forced to hunt wild animals
Retired bricklayer Paddy Smith, 67, was pushing his bike along the street with bags of bedding hanging from the handlebars when we bumped into him.
He told us: “There’s been a big rise in crime, homes are getting burgled left, right and centre and people are desperate.
“I’ve had to lend money to a neighbour from my state pension because she had her money stopped for five weeks and had nothing to live on.”
‘I will come down there and bang you out’
Nathan’s family of seven, led by mum Tracy Taylor and her husband Trevor Pickard, touched the hearts of viewers when it was revealed Tracy was battling cancer.
Hartlepool is at the centre of the Universal Credit row
The family appear to have moved out of their end terraced property which neighbours described as a “chaotic madhouse.” Boards were placed over the smashed front door a week ago.
When Sun Online journalists approached Nathan Kerr and Abbey Atkinson at her home he appeared at an upstairs window and said: “I will come down there and bang you out.”
Nathan, pictured with mum Tracey, claimed he was forced to hunt rabbits to eat
After appearing in the street with a wooden slab, he told us he was unhappy at the way he was portrayed on the programme.
“People are saying I eat squirrels and moles and I never have,” he whined.
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Fruit shop worker Bev Kelsey, 43, featured in the first episode of the show but was still unhappy with the way it showed Hartlepool.
She said: “I’ve never heard of anyone else having to go out to hunt for rabbits even if they are struggling. The programme focused on all the bad things and bad people, it doesn’t represent Hartlepool at all.
“I have lived for years in this area and it’s a decent community with good people in it.
“Yes people are hard up and there isn’t much work but the people in this town are good people.”