Ri­ot­ers torch N-east man's home

Man re­lives ter­ror of Lon­don ri­ots

Evening Express (Extra Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By Jamie Mac­don­ald

AN ABERDEEN man to­day re­lived the ter­ri­fy­ing mo­ment he faced dy­ing when ri­ot­ers torched his home.

James Wal­lace had just re­turned from a sun­shine break in Ibiza when his life was turned up­side down.

The 31-year-old cost con­troller for an en­gi­neer­ing com­pany was ready to re­lax at home when he found him­self caught up in the loot­ing and ri­ot­ing, which has rav­aged parts of Lon­don.

James was back in his Clapham home for a mat­ter of hours, obliv­i­ous to just how close the trou­ble was un­til a friend phoned him to say the loot­ers were yards away in his lo­cal Lad­brokes, try­ing to steal a flatscreen TV.

He said: “Clapham Junc­tion is not re­ally that sort of area and you wouldn’t ex­pect the sort of trou­ble you might get in other ar­eas.

“Out on the main street all the shops and con­ve­nience stores that are nor­mally open were all closed up.

“The po­lice were there and hood­ies were start­ing to con­gre­gate but I thought noth­ing of it.

“I don’t think we re­alised it was so bad un­til trou­ble be­gan to flare af­ter 9pm when a Deben­hams depart­ment store had its win­dows smashed and loot­ing be­gan.

“I was watch­ing the street from my win­dow when a few of my mates phoned say­ing to turn on the news.

“They were show­ing the Lad­brokes two doors up from me where loot­ers were try­ing to take the TV off the wall.

“It was sur­real, it was hard to know what was go­ing on.

“There wasn’t vi­o­lence, it seemed they were just try­ing to loot stuff.”

By 11pm, with calm ap­pear­ing to have been re­stored and the size of the mob start­ing to di­min­ish James was about to call it a night when his flat­mate Nick Shaw came home.

The pair thought about head­ing out for a bite to eat but stayed in­doors in­stead.

He said: “I was speak­ing to Nick when they broke into the cos­tume shop di­rectly be­low us. There were heaps of loot­ers walk­ing about with fancy dress masks on.

“A bit later Nick had his head out the win­dow when he said he could smell smoke.”

A fire be­lieved to have started in the cos­tume shop be­low quickly spread through­out the build­ing.

He added: “Then the neigh­bours were smash­ing on the door shout­ing ‘get out, get out, fire’. At the time I thought it was a pre­cau­tion but I grabbed my jacket and Nick grabbed his iPad. We were more wor­ried about loot­ers than fire.”

James added: “When I opened my door there was thick black smoke.

“I don’t re­ally re­mem­ber go­ing down the stairs, it was quite dark and smoky.

“The first thing I re­mem­ber was a riot cop throw­ing us out the way. They were just con­cerned about get­ting peo­ple away from the build­ing.

“I got pushed to­wards the end of the street where quite a crowd had gath­ered. The po­lice were us­ing loud hail­ers to warn peo­ple about the fire.”

In the tur­moil James and Nick were split up but luck­ily for James he had rel­a­tives staying nearby that he was able to go and stay with.

For safety rea­sons t he f ormer Broomhill Pri­mary and Cults Academy pupil was un­able to re­turn to the gut­ted build­ing for two days.

He said: “A guy from the coun­cil said be­cause I stayed in a flat with an ad­join­ing wall to the next build­ing my room had fire­proof walls.

“I was ini­tially quite pos­i­tive but on fur­ther in­spec­tion ev­ery­thing was smoke dam­aged and the heat had melted any­thing plas­tic. “Ev­ery­thing was singed and melted. “It is a big old house and with the thick walls I can’t hear Clapham Junc­tion

DE­STRUC­TION: Po­lice on the streets as build­ings were set on fire, and, left, the black­ened kitchen at James’ flat af­ter the blaze.

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