Belfast Telegraph

Gang of children tormented my elderly mum, says Belfast daughter

By Brett Campbell

The daughter of an elderly north Belfast woman who suffers from dementia has described how a gang of children made her mum's final days at home a misery.

Sarah Richardson (86) was admitted to a care home just a few months ago, but her tormentors are still attacking the Ardoyne home which she lived in for more than 60 years.

On Wednesday evening, a shed in the back garden of the property on Etna Drive was set on fire, damaging an adjoining garden, and a window of the vacant property next door was also smashed.

"I haven't even told my mother this has happened because it would break her heart, she would just sit and cry," her daughter Karen said.

"For two years she rang me up every day saying the kids were back in her garden."

Ms Richardson said the culprits, who previously tried to break into her mum's house as her dad lay on his death bed, once built a hut in the alleyway.

"They completely destroyed her fence and they sat in that den drinking and smoking dope all through the night," she said.

"My partner ended up going down and taking it apart, but a lot of the material was never moved."

The 48-year-old believes some of that material was used to start the fire which was discovered by her nephew.

"I don't know where it's going to end, but something needs to be done - there is a gate at the end of the alleyway behind the houses but it is never locked. I think that might go some way to helping calm things down, but ultimately the parents have to bear responsibility.

"It's up to them to know what their children are doing."

A PSNI spokesperson said that officers have spoken to partner agencies with a view to securing both gardens, which local youths have been using as a meeting place to drink.

They also said that local patrols will pay "particular attention" to the area to tackle the issue, which many residents have been complaining about.

SDLP councillor Paul McCusker, who is working with residents to find a solution, posted pictures of the damage on social media and said he is "disgusted" by the criminal behaviour.

"For those who did this, this is no way to have fun, have a think about the serious amount of risk you put other homes and residents in today," he wrote on Facebook.

"This type of madness needs to stop before someone is seriously hurt or killed."

Police have appealed for anyone with information to call them on 101.

Belfast Telegraph

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