The street of hor­rors af­ter dark

Res­i­dents tired of liv­ing in fear

Daily Mercury - - NEWS - Me­lanie Plane Me­lanie.Plane@dai­ly­mer­cury.com.au

A MAN stag­gers up the street let­ting loose ran­dom out­bursts of foul lan­guage and abuse. He can’t keep his bal­ance and doesn’t seem to know which way is which. Who knows what po­tent com­bi­na­tion of al­co­hol or dan­ger­ous drugs is cours­ing through his blood­stream.

His be­hav­iour, caught on video, is a con­fronting sight you would not ex­pect in a sub­ur­ban street, but it’s one the res­i­dents of James St on the fringe of Mackay’s CBD don’t find un­usual. For the umpteenth time, they go through the rou­tine of reach­ing for the phone, di­alling 000.

In the light of day, James St ap­pears quiet and friendly, but if you look a lit­tle closer, the glass shat­tered on the road­way and the chains and locks on the front gates of homes paint a darker pic­ture – one that rears its ugly head soon af­ter the sun goes down.

Young Mackay cou­ple Skye Moore and Cody Hansen have lived in James St for about 18 months but with a six-mon­thold daugh­ter, they say it’s time to get out. They don’t have any­where to go yet, but say any­thing is bet­ter than where they are now and by next Wed­nes­day they will have waved good­bye to James St. They have ap­plied for more than 20 rentals and emer­gency hous­ing.

Their time in James St has cer­tainly been mem­o­rable and they have a few sto­ries to tell at bar­be­cues.

Like the time a man in­volved in a stab­bing nearby jumped their fence and ran through their yard while flee­ing po­lice.

Or the time an ag­gres­sive man con­fronted Cody in the drive­way for no rea­son other than to scream racial abuse inches from his face and tell him he was go­ing to ‘kill his mis­sus’, who he’d had a huge fight with up the street.

Skye and Cody say they moved into their James St home un­aware of the is­sues, but soon found out about its sor­did rep­u­ta­tion, at­trib­uted to the clien­tele of a nearby hos­tel.

“We have been here since April last year... We were young so just moved in where we could. It went down­hill from there. The cops come through al­most ev­ery night pick­ing peo­ple up off the street, some­times un­til 3am,” Cody said.

“There is a fight at least once a week at the hos­tel car park and they take it up the street, yelling and scream­ing at each other. Ap­par­ently the street has al­ways been this way. Our land­lord told us the house next door was a drug den be­fore he bought it.

“Night time is the worst. You can pretty much tell when peo­ple will start stum­bling past. As soon as 9–10pm hits, there will be at least 10 peo­ple in the street. It’s a com­bi­na­tion of males and fe­males of all ages – we have 12-year-olds in the street at 12am.

“Mow­ing the yard, I’m al­ways find­ing bro­ken glass. We need to get out of here be­fore our daugh­ter Laura gets too old. We want her to be able to play in the yard safely with­out be­ing ex­posed to that.”

Skye and Cody say they un­der­stand the hos­tel man­age­ment can’t con­trol what goes on out­side the prop­erty, but the en­tire neigh­bour­hood is tired of liv­ing in fear.

“It’s just get­ting a bit ridicu­lous. When the poor guy a few doors up had just moved in, he didn’t re­alise he had to lock his gate and some­one was there try­ing to break into his car. Ev­ery­one goes through this and ev­ery­body is hon­estly sick of it.

“This would be up there on the list of the worst streets in town. We’ve learned not to go out­side at night.”

PHOTO: M. PLANE

FED UP: Young Mackay cou­ple Skye Moore and Cody Hansen say James St is out of con­trol.

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