Belfast Telegraph

South Belfast rooftop rampage leaves repair bill of thousands for residents

By Allan Preston

Residents of a south Belfast street have told how they are struggling to repair the damage caused during a one-man rampage on Sunday night.

A man climbed onto roofs at Ashley Drive and during four hours of destruction, he kicked down chimneys and ripped up masonry and slates, throwing them on to the street below.

Damage was caused to at least 10 homes and three cars were destroyed before police were able to arrest the suspect.

Ruth Houston (29) was at home with her husband and their eight-month-old son on Sunday evening.

Both their cars have been written off, their chimney was destroyed and further damage caused to the roof.

She said: "The scariest thing was that my son was sleeping at the time and we just wanted to make sure he was okay, we had to get out.

"Both our cars were written off, so that's been a massive hassle as well as sorting repairs.

"I've been on the phone constantly with insurance companies and the excess payments on everything has cost us around £1,000 so far."

"I don't think the police could have done any more on the night, but it's been a very stressful week."

Zoe Davis (24) has been renting with her sister on Ashley Drive for over a year.

She showed how her chimney had been thrown through a skylight and landed in her bedroom wardrobe.

"Our landlord said he's going through insurance at the moment, but two skylights are only boarded up and we're getting rain in the house.

"It was very stressful when it happened.

"At first we thought it was just people shouting outside, then I realised there was a man on my roof.

"Now I'm worried about damp getting in, as we've worked very hard to make this house a home for us."

Next door, a 27-year-old PhD student and her fiance had just celebrated a year of owning their own home.

Gaping holes remain on their roof, a hallway window is smashed and their brand new bathroom has sustained serious water damage.

In the back yard a manhole cover was smashed through with bricks, causing drainage problems.

"When we were evacuated I screamed and cried at him, begging him to stop.

"But he just looked at me and pushed the chimney down," she said.

"We had to stand on the street for hours with nothing and watch him destroy our houses, it's very distressing.

"Now we're left to pick up the pieces, while this guy's out on bail."

Another homeowner of 14 years said damage to rooftop gas vents could have endangered lives.

"We were told if the heating was on it had the potential to cause serious injury, as the fumes wouldn't have been able to escape.

"Luckily it was a hot evening and the gas wasn't on.

"I don't know the full cost for repairs yet, but it won't be small. I'm angry."

Stephen McAuley (26) from Kilburn Street appeared in court on Tuesday, charged with assaulting a police officer and disorderly behaviour.

He was released on bail and placed under curfew.

Belfast Telegraph

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