A disgraced Croydon councillor who exploited his wife’s mental illness to “fleece” her of her home has defied calls to step down and denied wrongdoing at his first public appearance since the revelations.

Matthew Kyeremeh was last month suspended from the Labour Party after a damning court ruling revealed he set out "with determination, deliberation and calculation" to deprive Angela Kyeremeh of income from the sale of her house and flat, leaving her “homeless and destitute”.

The Thornton Heath councillor was sacked from his role of deputy cabinet member for communities, safety and justice and publicly condemned by senior Labour party figures, who urged him to step down from the council following the March 21 Family Court judgment.

But last night Cllr Kyeremeh used the first full meeting of Croydon Council since the ruling to publicly protest his innocence.

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In a prepared statement read out before councillors at the start of the meeting, Cllr Kyeremeh said: "I would like to say to you that I have done nothing wrong. I'm not asking you to take sides on this issue, but suspend judgement."

The councillor, now Croydon's only independent elected member, asked colleagues in the chamber to "not to take it from me" but to wait for the outcome of an appeal he had lodged by his legal team, adding: "The judge did not say I did anything illegal."

He described District Judge Delia Coonan's decision to publish the ruling as an attack on the privacy of "attack on all councillors and everybody who has elected office" and claimed people had jumped unfairly to conclusions about his conduct.

He said: "My family life has been deeply impacted and damaged by the topic of mental health."

The statement was received in silence by members of the chamber and cut short by Mayor of Croydon Patricia Hay-Justice after Cllr Kyeremeh ran over his allotted time.

District Judge Delia Coonan, sitting at Croydon Family Court, took the unusual step of publishing her judgment because of Cllr Kyeremeh’s public role.

RELATED: Croydon councillor Matthew Kyeremeh left wife homeless after exploiting her mental illness to 'fleece' her of properties

It revealed the councillor "harangued" his wife - later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia - into selling the flat in 2005 while she was unable to challenge him because of her deteriorating mental health.

Despite the couple divorcing in 2006, Ms Kyeremeh received only £15,000 of the £95,621 income from the sale of her house in 2007, forcing her to sleep on the streets, the court found.

Speaking last week, council leader Tony Newman today said he had received "not one email, not one phone call, nothing" by way of contact from Cllr Kyeremeh since his suspension.

Cllr Kyeremeh is thought to have travelled to New York amid a storm of condemnation after news of his misdemeanours emerged.

He was not seen leaving the town hall through the main entrance following last night’s meeting.

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