Leigh Park neighbours of drugs den tell of misery it brought to their lives

Police officers at Athena Avenue. Picture: Malcolm Wells

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NEIGHBOURS have described their nightmare of living next to a crack den.

Police have closed down the ground-floor flat in Soberton Road, Leigh Park, after two years of shocking incidents at the property, which became a haven for drug users.

The ground floor flat has been closed

The ground floor flat has been closed

People living nearby have spoken of groups of people arriving like ‘the walking dead’ in the mornings to pick up their fixes, hammer attacks in broad daylight and drug users simply dumped in the street after overdosing.

One woman even found an addict passed out in an alleyway with a needle sticking out of his arm.

Two weeks ago, following yet another late-night bust-up outside the flat, a large group of residents pleaded with police to take action.

Police officers in Leigh Park managed to secure a three-month closure order on the flat at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

08/08/14  ''No 281 Soberton Road in Leigh Park which has been boarded up following a court order to prevent it continuing as a drugs den.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (142315-6) PPP-140808-193536003

08/08/14 ''No 281 Soberton Road in Leigh Park which has been boarded up following a court order to prevent it continuing as a drugs den.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (142315-6) PPP-140808-193536003

A neighbour, who wants to remain anonymous, compared it to a scene out of a television zombie programme and said: ‘It was hell.

‘They would walk across the green to the flat to pick up their drugs from the window like something out of The Walking Dead. They were just zombies.

‘Youngsters would come down and sit outside the flat in a £60,000 convertible – it was obvious what they were doing.

‘How else could they afford cars like that at their age?

‘A couple of months back we heard screaming and shouting and looked out to see a bloke had been hit with a hammer.

‘But he was so out of it he didn’t realise.

‘He then picked up the hammer and started smashing the convertible car up because there was something in it he wanted.

‘Another time the people in the flat literally threw a bloke out of the front door who’d obviously overdosed – they didn’t want him dying in the flat.

‘That’s how disgusting they are.’

On another occasion a young mum said she witnessed a scene when a huge row broke out inside and outside the flat.

She said: ‘One of them was shouting “where’s my gear? Give me my gear”. There’d be children out there playing, doing handstands and cartwheels, while drug addicts were being arrested.

‘They shouldn’t have to see things like that.’

Another neighbour, who also did not want to be named, described her horror at realising her children had been watching drug deals take place through the flat’s open window.

She said: ‘There would be shouting and swearing and people going in and out of the flat at all hours of the day.

‘They would do the drug deals through the windows. It was horrific.

‘I had to sit my children down and explain what was happening. It made me feel horrible. There were maybe 10 to 15 people in there sometimes.

‘There were all sorts going in and out.

‘Most of them could hardly walk they were so out of it.

‘In the end everyone came out of their houses when the police were there and said “you’ve got to do something, please do something”.

‘It’s such a relief they’ve finally gone.

‘I feel better, but I just hope they’re not allowed back.’

Councillor Faith Ponsonby, who represents Battins on Havant Borough Council, said Portsmouth City Council should take more care when placing people in the flats.

‘Sometimes they move people who have been a nuisance in Portsmouth here,’ she said.

A spokesman for the city council said the tenancy is now under review and the eviction order must go through the county court.

But he confirmed the tenant is now homeless.

However it is not usual practice to place a tenant back in the same property following a closure order.

Police vow to keep up the fight against dealers

POLICE obtained a Crack House Closure Order for 281 Soberton Road, Leigh Park, under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003.

It means no-one can enter the property for three months and during this time it is a criminal offence for anyone to enter the address unless authorised by police.

Sergeant Tony Botten said: ‘This closure order has been a result of working with Portsmouth City Council, which owns the property, and local residents.

‘This work is part of the Fortress campaign which brings together police, councils, drug treatment and support services and voluntary groups to find long-term solutions to restricting the supply of drugs, reducing demand and rebuilding communities.

‘Our aim is to protect vulnerable people while making Leigh Park a hostile place for criminals coming here to deal drugs and threaten, intimidate or harm others.

‘If you are concerned about drug-related crime where you live, please contact us.

‘The support we receive from local people is vital in helping us make our communities safer and every piece of information is greatly appreciated.’

The city council’s housing management anti-social behaviour co-ordinator Gerry McDougall, said: ‘We will not tolerate the use of any of its properties for illegal purposes, including selling drugs on its housing estates, and we work proactively with the police and other agencies on this.

‘The majority of our tenants are decent, law-abiding citizens and we will continue to work hard to keep them and their children safe from those who deal drugs in our community.’

Report drug activity to the police on 101.