Car crash, suicide and an unknown £80,000 debt. The ‘perfect storm’ of crises that could make one widow homeless

Anyssa Neumann and Alastair Putt. (Ambria Florence)
Anyssa Neumann and Alastair Putt.

A widow is facing the prospect of losing her home unless she can pay back £80,000 that her late husband borrowed before a "perfect storm" of crises led to him to taking his own life.

In August 2022, 39-year-old composer and musician Alastair Putt killed himself after suffering from serious mental health problems for a prolonged period of time. It followed a crash - in which a stolen car smashed into their home - that his wife, Anyssa Neumann, says was the start of her life unravelling.

One year on, Anyssa tells Yahoo News she is still picking up the pieces and feels like she is "in triage".

"I am constantly trying to stop the bleeding and in that sense I can't take time to grieve," she says.

She says the experience has left her exhausted, angry, petrified and unable to plan her life more than three weeks in advance.

"I am constantly asking myself when will I be sectioned? Who's going to come and pick me up off the floor?"

The couple planned on buying a second home in Sweden where Anyssa had a temporary postdoctoral role and, in preparation for this, Alastair took out an £80,000 mortgage from Nationwide, putting their home in Bromley, south-east London, up as collateral.

When COVID and then later his mental health problems disrupted the plans for the Swedish home, Alastair then invested the mortgage on the stock market - unknown to Anyssa - and ended up losing over £50,000.

Alistair and Anyssa on their wedding day. (Brian Hatton)
Alastair and Anyssa on their wedding day. (Brian Hatton)

When he passed away his accounts were closed at a huge loss and transferred to his estate.

Nationwide has now advised that they will repossess the home if the loan is not paid back. Anyssa says she is unable to borrow from another bank because she is freelance and most of her income over the past few years has come from abroad.

Anyssa, 39, says Nationwide have instead demanded she pay it back in full by October or she may lose her house, a warning she describes as "unreasonable and inhumane."

When contacted by Yahoo News, Nationwide said: "We sympathise in what must be difficult and upsetting circumstances.

"We have been regularly communicating with Ms Neuman and have agreed a period of non-repayment until April 2024, six months more than our standard policy.

"This gives her more time to consider her options and we will continue to work with her to help find a solution."

(Ambria Florence)
(Ambria Neumann)

Annysa told Yahoo News in response to this: "I haven't had any updates since 28th July, despite several attempts on my side to follow up. Last I heard they were looking into the 6-month extension, but I was given no confirmation."

This final, unmanageable bill has come after more than a year of sudden and unwelcome expenses costing tens of thousands of pounds as a result of Alastair's death.

All of this has led to a state of permanent crisis for Anyssa who is facing financial ruin, and homelessness while also grieving for her husband.

In a Facebook post marking the eighth anniversary of their wedding, Anyssa described herself as a "broken record," constantly dealing with the fallout of her husband's death.

Anyssa Neumann's Facebook post on her and Alastair's 8th wedding anniversary. (Anyssa Neumann)
Anyssa Neumann's Facebook post on her and Alastair's 8th wedding anniversary. (Anyssa Neumann)

She added: "Dinner tonight is frozen veggie rolls because I can't even summon the energy to assemble a salad. Happy anniversary to me."

In response, Anyssa's sister, Ambria Neumann, has set up a GoFundMe to crowdfund the money needed to pay back the debt. At the time of writing it has raised over £60,000.

Ambria said her sister had had some "alarmingly low" moments that scared her family, adding: "Strong as she is, she cannot keep fighting alone, which is why I invite the world to stand with and support her."

Anyssa said: "I have to remind myself that all this help was available to Alastair if he'd asked, but he was too proud and eventually too sick, I can't make the same mistake."

Stolen car crash sparks crisis

The crisis in Anyssa and Alastair's life began in December 2021 when a stolen car was driven into their house resulting in severe damage to the property. Police have never found the culprit.

The crash was the second car to hit their house in two years after a collision in 2019 forced them to move out for eight weeks while repairs were carried out.

The car that crashed into Anyssa's and Alastair's house. (Ambria Neumann)
The car that crashed into Anyssa's and Alastair's house. (Ambria Neumann)

In January 2022 Alastair suffered a mental breakdown and over the next few months he was admitted to A&E several times.

The problems were compounded by the constant moving between London boroughs they had to do because of the damage to their house meaning "none of the hospitals or practices seemed to talk to each other," and added "there was no continuity of service."

She said at one point, in May 2022, the NHS mismanaged his records and he "disappeared from the system" leaving him with no treatment plan.

On 30 May 2022, Alastair attempted suicide and was sectioned. At this time he was completely emaciated, barely eating and showing signs of psychosis.

The house needed major repair work. (Ambria Florence)
The house needed major repair work. (Ambria Neumann)

In response to this, his family and Anyssa paid for him to spend five weeks in a private mental health hospital.

It was only around this time Alastair revealed to Anyssa he had lost a huge chunk of the mortgage money on the stock market.

When he was returned to the NHS from private his care was reduced from home treatment to community care.

Anyssa said she told the community care team he was still making suicidal comments but "they didn't respond in any meaningful way."

In her statement to the coroner, Anyssa said: "As I desperately sought intervention and treatment for him, we came up repeatedly against indifference, dismissiveness, unprofessionalism, miscommunication, negligence, and malpractice."

(Ambria Florence)
(Ambria Neumann)

Yahoo News has contacted the NHS for comment, but understands it has previously acknowledged that protocols can be difficult to follow in some circumstances.

Alastair took his life less than two months after leaving the private hospital. When he died he had no pension or life insurance.

Despite receiving support from family members and the Royal Society of Musicians, the total cost of dealing with the funeral and getting Alastair's tax affairs in order was almost £20,000.

Anyssa pinpointed the beginning of Alastair's decline to the crash at their home, which forced him to move out of the house and made him unable to work from home.

Alastair and Anyssa both appealed to the council for bollards to be installed outside of their house to protect their property but they were refused.

The junction where the house is situated is close to the sites of fatal accidents in recent years. In 2016 a 10-year-old boy was killed when a police officer in pursuit of another car mounted a curb and hit him.

In 2019, an eight-month-old boy and her mother died after being struck by a car near the junction.

Anyssa said Bromley Council's indifference to the issue had been "appalling and utter negligence."

Bromley Council has been approached for comment.

To make matters worse if the bank does take the house from Anyssa it would be sold far below market value due to its current state of repair and further issues from a burst water pipe in a neighbouring park that drained into her home.

The damage done to the grade II listed building. (Ambria Florence)
The damage done to the grade II listed building. (Ambria Neumann)

Anyssa said it took several months for her to accept she needed help from her sister.

Ambria said: "When Alastair first started spiralling it was like he was drowning and Anyssa dropped everything to dive in and save him - the institutions whose job it was to throw in life preservers failed to do so.

"Anyssa was trying to keep Alastair up almost entirely by herself and ultimately he kept thrashing and he ended up drowning.

"Since then she's just been treading water to keep herself afloat and as a sister who loves her none of us want to see her sink and we are now asking anyone and everyone to throw in a life preserver so she can stop treading water and get out of the ocean."

You can donate to the GoFundMe page here.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-8255, or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

For confidential emotional support contact The Samaritans at any time by calling 116 123 or emailing