Couple’s heartbreak as gang of chainsaw kids wreck every room in their £1.2m home
A COUPLE have been left heartbroken after their £1.2 million Grade II-listed home was vandalised by children wielding chainsaws, hammers and axes.
In a month- long spree of destruction, the six-bedroom home on the Isle of Wight was targeted by the ‘mindless’ youths who smashed antiques and stained-glass windows and chopped down a palm tree.
The children, aged between 11 and 15, damaged a wrought-iron chandelier, flipped over antique furniture and even destroyed the homeowner’s wedding dress.
Owners Joanna and Matt Pittard had planned to make the property in Shanklin their family home, but their dream had been left in tatters, a court heard.
Isle of Wight magistrates’ court heard the property had been left ‘practically uninhabitable’ after the gang wreaked havoc in May and June last year.
The vandalism has caused the property value to fall by up to £ 300,000, the court was told, despite the couple spending tens of thousands on repairs.
Seven perpetrators – who are now aged between 13 and 16 and cannot be named for legal reasons – were each fined £1,500 after admitting criminal damage. Prosecutor Ann Smout said the couple had left the house empty for a month over Easter.
On June 3, their gardener told them there ‘may be some damage’ to the property and they returned the next day to ‘banging noises’, as it became clear ‘something was going on’ and youths were leaving the address.
An ornate stained-glass window was ‘fully smashed’, along with 22 other windows, a double-glazed conservatory door and numerous handmade hardwood doors – some of which were over 100 years old.
Ms Smout said the garage had been broken into and chainsaws, axes and sledgehammers could be found in ‘every bedroom’.
Mrs Pittard said: ‘The whole of the property had been damaged. It is mindless and looks like a whirlwind has been through the property.’ She was horrified to find her wedding dress ‘destroyed’ after being covered in oil, nail varnish and footprints.
Mrs Pittard said the damage was ‘heartbreaking’, adding: ‘It looks like a war zone. From being a beautiful, historic building, it is a derelict shell of itself. ‘We are horrified at the evil vandalism and attempts at arson at our property. It will take a long time to recover financially and emotionally from this event.’
The court heard the teenagers had expressed their ‘ regret and remorse’ for what happened and had all had ‘improvements’ in their behaviour and attitude since.
Magistrates chairman Keith Jones said he was ‘lost for words’ at their ‘disgraceful’ behaviour.
The teenagers were handed 12- month referral orders and ordered to pay £1,500 compensation for the ‘very personal impact on the family involved’.
‘Horrified at the evil vandalism’