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South Australian woman claims she was assaulted by boarder


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A MOTHER who has opened her home up to society’s most vulnerable has slammed the government and police for their lack of support - after a residential boarder turned into a stubborn squatter.

Matilda Bawden has long been opening up her South Australian home to those in need - many of whom are recovering addicts, chronically homeless or disabled.

But she alleges her latest guest has assaulted her and refused to move out after she confronted him about payment for the room.

Ms Bawden says she tailors rent to the individual’s needs and circumstances and had agreed early on for Mamoud Jaber to pay $150 a week for the room in her fully furnished home with all utilities included.

But she says he has underpaid from day one and the situation has reached boiling point.

“He always had a thousand excuses as to why he couldn’t pay his rent on time.” Ms Bawden told Today Tonight.

“I take in high risk people though, I know that goes with the nature of the territory.

“But it was pretty terrifying to find out that he just switched, you know, he changed his attitude, his behaviour.

“He decided he was going to start yelling and screaming at me, verbally abusing me, calling me horrible names.

“I made it very clear by that stage that he was trespassing and was not welcome.”

But it wasn’t just Mr Jaber’s actions that left Ms Bawden fuming.

She claims that when the abuse became physical, and she and her daughter called police for help, that the officers sided with her attacker.

“They were threatening to arrest and charge us and not the convicted criminal with a list [of crimes] as long as your arm, threatening to assault and assaulted several of us,” she added.

“I'm willing to take in people who are ex-offenders and recovering drug addicts and so on, so I don’t expect everyone to walk into my house without a wrap sheet of some sort.

“But I had no idea the kind of rap sheet Mamoud had. A very long history of violent behaviour, vandalism, assaults, use of weapons.

Mr Jaber came to Australia on a student visa from Jordan in 2005 and has had a variety of other visas since.

In 2010 he committed his first criminal offence and his offending has escalated since.

And it all came to ahead when he allegedly became violent towards Ms Bawden.

But when the police responded to multiple calls from Ms Bawden they said it appeared to be a civil matter, therefore the police had no right to evict.

The situation has led Ms Bawden to reconsider opening up her home to those in need, a move Chantelle Herd says would be devastating to those who find themselves in similar situations to her in the future.

“I stayed in this very room, and it was more than accommodating and it has only gotten better over time,” Ms Herd today Today Tonight.

“I moved in with her when I ran away from home, when I was 17.

“Matilda took me completely under her wing. There was nothing you couldn’t get in this house, as a matter of fact, you could ring her in the middle of the night and be starving, crying, down and out and she would be there.”

But not everyone appears to appreciate the accommodation like Ms Herd did and now Ms Bawden is considering calling it a day.

“To find that this is the thanks I get from the State Government, from public servants, from police... it’s just a slap in the face.

“I'm welcoming and open to everybody, but I would be thinking really long and hard whether or not I want to continue this and in what capacity.”

Mr Jaber didn’t respond to requests for an interview but is understood to be on the Federal Government’s radar.

A statement from the Home Affairs Department read:

"The Department is aware of this case. The Australian Government takes seriously its responsibility to protect the community from the risk of harm arising from foreign nationals who choose to engage in criminal activity or other serious conduct of concern."
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