Rioters torch N-east man's home
Man relives terror of London riots
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.