A Preston man dubbed a ‘super-tramp’ in the national media has hit back at claims he has a jet-setting lifestyle.
Damien Preston-Booth, 37, was homeless for three years, before saving up money earned from selling the Big Issue to move into a flat outside Preston.
But national newspapers have dubbed him a “rogue” and a “scrounger”, accusing him of fleecing tourists and jet-setting around the world.
Now he has spoken out to the Lancashire Evening Post, insisting he is desperate to find work to improve his life.
He said he became homeless three years ago after leaving a friend’s home, and said: “I went to London and started selling the Big Issue on and off and people would give me money as a contribution.
“At Christmas I do carol singing. I get a Father Christmas suit to make myself feel better.
“I’ve been on tablets now for three months, depression tablets, and I’m trying to make myself feel better.
“I saved up and got money for the flat and I’m trying to make my life better.
“I would like a job but now no-one is going to employ me now this is all in the papers.”
The Sun featured Damien on its front page last week, accusing him of “fleecing the mega-rich”, and the story was picked up by newspapers across the country.
The stories criticised him for travelling to London from his Lancashire home, for having a card reader and for “holidays” in Europe. But Damien said he travelled by Megabus for £20, and continued to go to London, as people knew him there.
He said: “There’s a card reader I bought when I was selling the Big Issue because a lot of people have no change.”
He was suspended from the magazine after an argument, and said he relied on carol singing over Christmas.
Damien said: “I didn’t earn more than £80 a week, which helped me put electricity in and my bus fares and buy a bit of food.” He said he even saved money to backpack around Europe to look for work last year, which had been referred to as “regular hols”.
He now claims employment support, and said: “I’ve no electric, it’s running out, so I’ve not put my heating on.”