Barber in battle with Home Office would 'rather die than be deported'

A barber from Bristol says he feels 'suffocated' by an ongoing deportation battle with the Home Office.

Anthonell Peccoo, 27, was born in Jamaica and moved to the UK with his mum when he was six. He has lived and worked here ever since.

When he was 20, Mr Peccoo was convicted of grievous bodily harm and drug offences.

In 2017, after serving two years in prison, he tried to seek asylum in the UK on various grounds - including having family in the UK and that there was threat to his life in Jamaica.

Earlier this year, Mr Peccoo's asylum claim was rejected by the Home Office. This lead to more than 100,000 people signing a petition to stop his deportation.

Following this, he won his immigration case but the relief was short-lived. The Home Office appealed it, lost its appeal but then appealed for a second, and final, time.

Mr Peccoo is waiting on the outcome of the Home's Office second appeal. Credit: ITV West Country

'I'd rather die than be deported'

Mr Peccoo has now been waiting more than five months for the outcome and said: "I left Jamaica when I was really young and I've been in England ever since, 20 plus years.

"So to say that I'm not British, that's just a weird statement in itself. I'd rather die than be deported at this point, because where am I going?

"I'm basically in prison in a way. Because I have all the freedom of breathing air and seeing daylight - but now I'm just feeling suffocated and not comfortable in my own skin."

His friend, Leah Pimm, was at the court hearing when Mr Peccoo won his immigration tribunal case.

Over the past few months, she said his mental health has deteriorated.

"He's not able to open a bank account, he's not allowed to work for money," she said.

"He's not able to start a future for himself and that claustrophobic feeling he must feel is awful."

Anthonell Peccoo and Leah Pimm at The Second Combing barbershop in Stokes Croft. Credit: ITV West Country

The Home Office would not comment directly on Mr Peccoo's case but issued a statement to ITV News West Country.

It said: "This Government puts the rights of the British public before those of dangerous criminals, and we are clear that foreign criminals should be deported from the UK wherever it is legal and practical to do so.

"Since January 2019 we have removed over 10,000 foreign criminals."

Mr Peccoo hopes his name never be added to that statistic. He has tried to rebuild his life by getting involved with LoveBristol.

The charity has helped him set up a barbershop in Stokes Croft where he works for free.

The Second Combing, which is inside the second-hand furniture shop Happytat, has given Mr Peccoo structure, purpose and a chance to develop him business skills.

Leah Pimm said: "I think it's really set a good foundation for him but know the next thing is for him to really be able to earn his own money.

"To be able to provide for himself and this fundraiser can, I think, set a further foundation for him for that to actually happen."

The Second Combing has a space in Happytat, a second-hand furniture shop in Stokes Croft. Credit: ITV West Country

LoveBristol has set up a fundraiser for Mr Peccoo to help him build up the business, as he has given so much time to the local community and has not been paid for any of it.

Doug Anderson, from LoveBristol, hopes the public will give generously. He wants Anthonell to "gain new lease of life during his waiting game with HMRC".

The appeal made by the Home Office is still being considered and there is no indication when a decision will be made.

If unsuccessful, Mr Peccoo will be able to remain in the UK and the Home Office is not allowed to appeal for a third time.

But if the appeal is successful, his case will be reviewed again. It will then be on the Home Office to prove that the decision made by the tribunal judge earlier this year, was wrong.