Exmouth's 'living hell'

PUBLISHED: 09:00 28 August 2011

Littleham residents Emma Gage, Sandy Shaw and David Hill pictured at the top of Mountain Close. Ref exe 6955-34-11SH To order your copy of this photograph visit www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on myphotos24

Littleham residents Emma Gage, Sandy Shaw and David Hill pictured at the top of Mountain Close. Ref exe 6955-34-11SH To order your copy of this photograph visit www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on myphotos24

Archant

Racist taunts, threats and prolific crime have driven a Littleham man to despair, forcing him to flee his home.

Barry Shaw, 29, of Mountain Close, claims his life has been made a misery by thugs who repeatedly vandalise and break into properties in the cul-de-sac – leading to him and his partner, Emma Gage, 28, abandoning their council-owned flat.

Residents of Mountain Close this week contacted the Journal ‘as a last resort’ - claiming the police were turning a blind eye to a group of ‘drug users, alcoholics and out-of-control youths running amok’ in the area.

Devon and Cornwall police told the Journal it was monitoring the area, taking residents’ complaints seriously, but required proof of any anti-social behaviour before action could be taken.

A force spokeswoman said: “Following the initial concerns, raised by a minority of residents, police have increased patrols in the area and asked residents to keep a diary of incidents.

“The force takes all allegations of criminal and anti-social behaviour seriously.

“However, in order for us to ensure justice is done, we also need the co-operation of the community.”

A district council spokesman said there had been an ‘ongoing catalogue of niggling incidents’ involving a small group of neighbours.

The council said, as landlords, it was working with all parties concerned to ‘damp down emotions’.

The spokesman said: “We have now written to the individuals concerned and have suggested that they go through a mediation process involving an independent mediator.

“This offer has been accepted verbally, but we are awaiting written agreement from all parties to take part in mediation.”

Mr Shaw said he suffers from depression and is heading for a ‘nervous breakdown’ as a result of the trouble.

His doctor has prescribed anti-depressants and written to the police with concerns for his welfare and general health.

His partner, Emma, said she had lost several stone in weight in recent months due to escalating crime and intimidation.

Mr Shaw said: “We just can’t live there. It’s so bad. We are living with mum.

“It makes me ill by being there. We don’t know what to expect next. We are constantly looking over our shoulder. We can’t live like that.

“I don’t feel the police are doing their job properly.

“It just feels like they are not bothered about what we say.”

Emma Gage said: “It’s unliveable. It’s hell. Everybody is walking on eggshells.

“I get really scared when I am on my own in the flat.”

Neighbour David Hill, 63, said: “My wife died recently and they say things like she’s better off without me.

“I’ve had peppers thrown at my home. It’s been going on for about 18 months. The police haven’t done anything about it.”

The police are urging anyone who sees crime in the area to dial 999. Telephone 08452 777444 with information about anti-social behaviour.

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