Youths burn Dewsbury family’s garden in campaign of anti-social behaviour

Annette Reed in her garden that has been damaged by gangs of youths.  (d604c443)
Annette Reed in her garden that has been damaged by gangs of youths. (d604c443)

An eight-year campaign of anti-social behaviour came to a head when thugs set fire to a family’s garden with petrol.

Annette and Shaun Reed have lived in Lees Holm, Thornhill Lees, for 37 years – but say they are now sick of putting up with verbal abuse, littering, damage to their property and youths throwing bricks.

Mrs Reed said: “I shouldn’t have to put up with that in my own home when I don’t bother anyone.

“We can’t have a BBQ in summer, we can’t sit outside – we have no quality of life.”

Last month a gang of youths poured petrol onto the Reed’s fence and garden, before setting it alight.

The fire caused considerable damage to fences, trees and a gazebo that previously belonged to Mrs Reed’s sister, who died of cancer.

On the night of the fire, Mrs Reed could hear youths revving an engine in the ginnel next to their home but decided to ignore them.

When she went for a shower she heard her husband, Shaun, shout: “We’re on fire”.

She said: “When I walked down the stairs the garden was bright orange.”

The family was able to put the fire out themselves with a hose, which they still keep attached to the outside tap, but a lot of damage had been done.

Mrs Reed said that the source of the trouble were gangs who hang around, drinking and riding a motorcycle through the ginnel.

Kirklees Council put gates up at each end after earlier incidents and handed the keys to the Reeds, which gave them responsibility for the daily locking and unlocking.

But Mrs Reed said this had led to them being targeted by the youths, who knew they had the keys.

And she said the gangs found ways to break the locks and force the gates open.

The Reed family now want to see the ginnel blocked off for good and consider this the only way to stop the attacks.

Mrs Reed said: “I don’t know what I am going to do if they don’t shut it. Do they want us on fire? Do they want a death?

“I don’t want cameras in my garden, it will look like the Bronx. And if you have a scarf around your face or a hood up you wouldn’t see anything.”

When Mrs Reed was in her garden trying to save what remained of her conifers after the latest attack, she said a youth threatened to set another fire if the gate was locked.

Kirklees community safety manager Chris Walsh said the council had arranged to meet the family this week to try and resolve the problems.

He said: “The gates were fitted some time ago to try and alleviate antisocial behaviour. However, it would appear that recent tensions have arisen because the gates are preventing access to the alleyway – resulting in the residents’ hedge being set alight.

“We want to reassure the residents that we take actions like this very seriously and will do whatever we can to help them deal with the problem.”