House boarded up after closure order on hive for drug dealing

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PROLIFIC drug dealing at a council house in Gosport left a woman’s hair falling out she was so frightened, a court heard.

After spiralling anti-social behaviour problems that left a neighbourhood living in fear, Durley Road occupier Aeme Paget, 34, was given a premises closure order at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court.

Despite Paget having taken no legal advice, the bench turned down a request to adjourn so the occupier could fight the order – leading to Paget storming out of court before the case had finished.

Magistrates were told the address was a hive of drug dealing activity both day and night with cars turning up and people coming and going.

‘There was criminal behaviour at the premises with there drug dealing taking place,’ prosecutor Tim Moores said. ‘There was a police raid which discovered a significant quantity of drugs.

‘Wraps were found in Ms Paget’s purse and it’s right to say there were transient dealers that used the house.’

The court heard that despite a warrant being issued in July, drug dealing continued unabashed at council house.

‘Other people were coming to the property with there individuals from Liverpool returning regularly,’ Mr Moores continued. ‘Ms Paget took an active part in dealing drugs, though.’

He added: ‘A number of residents, who had young children, kept diaries of concerns. Ms Paget had been moved to the address after problems at a previous house. She effectively got through her probation before problems re-emerged.’

Mr Moores insisted on the closure order being imposed immediately to avoid further distress to the community, which the bench agreed with despite Paget’s desperate plea to the court.

‘I haven’t been there for the last couple of weeks - nothing has happened since the bust so I don’t understand why all this is happening,’ she said.

‘It all happened after I lost my kids. I can’t go into it all.’

One neighbour, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘It was horrible – there were random people going back and forth all the time and it was clear what was going on.

‘It got to a point where we didn’t even want to let the kids out of the house.

‘I do feel sorry for her though; maybe she just got mixed with the wrong crowd.’

Another neighbour, who also wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘It just seemed like she was on a downward spiral.

‘People would come round all hours of the day though and you could tell what was happening.’

Housing officer for Gosport council, Paul Wilson, told the court: ‘There have been repeated chances and now it’s happening again.

‘It’s had a big impact on residents. One lady said her hair has fallen out because of the stress and she is always shaking. No one should have to live like that.’

Presiding magistrate Simon Keitley said: ‘We refuse the adjournment request and impose a closure order for three months until December 5.’

Speaking outside court, solicitor for Gosport council Jamie Paterson said: ‘The closure order is only for three months. We could consider rehousing Ms Paget.’

Cllr Graham Burgess, Chairman of Gosport Borough Council's Community Board, said: ‘This is a victory for nearby residents, who have had to put up with appalling behaviour.

‘Activities at this address have caused misery for the neighbours. They've suffered severe anxiety and loss of sleep because of people coming and going at all hours.

‘We're very pleased the court has agreed that we can close the house and put an end to the nightmare suffered by residents. It has been boarded up and no-one can enter for three months.

‘We've worked very closely with police, and are grateful for their support.

‘We're now considering all options, including permanent eviction proceedings, to make sure neighbours are protected from such activities in the future.’

Gosport District Commander, Chief Inspector Sharon Woolrich said: ‘This closure order on Durley Road demonstrates the joint working that we undertake with Gosport Borough Council to address drug-related anti-social behaviour.

‘By granting the order the court has sent a clear message that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated in Gosport. We will continue to work with partner agencies to ensure that we use all of our available powers to combat these types of issues.

‘I’d like to thank the members of the community who contacted us and provided us with intelligence about people acting suspiciously in the area. This enabled us to carry out enquiries and subsequently a warrant at the address, which has in turn helped to secure this closure order.

‘This is a good result for residents and recognises the hard work undertaken by all of the agencies involved in this process.’