Father found dead after CSA demand for payment

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The Independent Online
THE CHILD Support Agency was yesterday facing renewed criticism after the second death this week of a father under scrutiny over maintenence payments, writes Helen Nowicka.

Sean Lyford-Smith was found hanging from a beam at his bedsit in Taunton, Somerset. The CSA had asked him to increase the weekly maintenance for his four-year-old daughter from pounds 10 to pounds 35, and make a back-payment of pounds 500. The arrangement would have left Mr Lyford-Smith, 23, a Department of Social Security employee, with an estimated pounds 10 a week after bills, and used up his savings.

News of his death emerged after Derek Atkin, a recently divorced father of two, was found in a car at his home in Grimsby, Humberside, on Tuesday. A hosepipe was leading from the vehicle's exhaust. The CSA was negotiating with Mr Atkin, a Humberside Police employee, over his maintenance arrangements.

Yesterday, Joanne Patey, the mother of Mr Lyford-Smith's daughter Maria, said she believed pressure from the CSA had contributed to his death.

'I know that the letters for more and the back-payment had been on his mind. There are a lot of fathers who pay nothing. That is who the CSA should be chasing,' she said.

The CSA said it could not comment on specific cases.