‘Six weeks of hell’ for Godmanchester is over after police shut down party house

A GROUP of neighbours endured ‘six weeks of hell’ after an empty house was turned into a venue for noisy parties that spiralled into violence and threats.

The Godmanchester neighbours had to endure weeks of parties, death threats, allegations of kidnap and fire scares after a group of youngsters started to use an unoccupied house in Merton Walk for social gatherings, Cambridgeshire police said.

One neighbour, who asked not be named, said: “It was a nightmare. They were constantly noisy, having parties all the time. They were rude to everyone and were violent. There were loads of them, aged around 14 and 15. I don’t know who they were, they just turned up.”

Police were called 18 times since the beginning of October, and last week managed to secure an order to close the house. It has now been boarded up and no-one is allowed to enter the building for three months.

Sergeant Ed McNeill, from the force’s problem solving team, said: “It was six weeks of hell for the neighbours. It became a neighbourhood where people where afraid to let their children go outside to play – in a place which is built for families to play safely, where before there were no crimes.

“The house massively impacted on the way that people lived their lives, it was horrendous for them.

“We received reports of parties with more than 50 people turning up. They would set up music, having a big free-for-all with nobody really taking control. We are investigating reports of threats to kill, actual bodily harm, kidnap and false imprisonment, which are very serious and just show what the neighbours had to live through.

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“The fire service had to come out once after a fire was started and they said that the house posed a significant fire risk as a fire could easily spread to other houses.”

The problem solving team, with help from Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, Huntingdonshire District Council and neighbours, succeeded in an application to Huntingdon magistrates on Thursday (November 22) to close the home under section 1(a) of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 – the first time officers have used the powers.

The law allows the closure of premises that cause significant and persistent disorder, or persistent serious nuisance to a community.

Sgt McNeill added: “The owner of the house is in America and was trying to sell it, but the estate agents refused to market it because of what was going on.

“There were debates on whether they were trespassing, and we were not able to use the new squatters legislation to get them out.

“We were lucky to be supported by some neighbours when we went to court and when the judgement was made, you could see the relief on their faces.

The team is really pleased with the result.”

Magistrates have closed the house for three months. The police can apply for an extension if they feel that the property could be used for parties, or pose a problem to neighbours, once again.