Warning over child vandals' half-term crime spree on the Isle of Wight

How group of up to 30 marauding teenagers are terrorising second home owners on the Isle of Wight as they let off fireworks in town centre and smash up their Halloween pumpkins – after couple’s £1.2m home is left ‘looking like a warzone’

A group of up to 30 teenagers on the Isle of Wight are terrorising second home owners by letting off fireworks in town centres, smashing children’s Halloween pumpkins and ransacking shops.

Members of the public in Newport town centre have been subjected to torments of verbal and physical abuse, with some even having food chucked at them, according to police as they warned the ‘juvenile nuisances’.

The Isle of Wight Police said the chaos, which has seen school kids climb on roofs, force their way into properties and throw around stock from shops, was not just a ‘holiday issue but sadly an ongoing daily occurrence’ that officers are ‘dealing with’.

The half term horror comes after a group of ‘evil’ child vandals were fined yesterday for ransacking a couple’s £1.2 million Grade-II listed home using chainsaws, hammers and axes leaving the property looking ‘like a war zone’.

The distraught owners told the court yesterday that the spree of destruction, that took place between May and June last year, saw their six-bedroom home in a town on the island torn apart by the children.

Antiques and ornate stained glass windows were smashed, while a a wrought-iron chandelier and a palm tree were brought down by the youths between the ages of 11 and 15. 

Joanna Pittard, who said even her beloved wedding dress was destroyed, and her husband Matt had planned to make the property their family home to live in with their two daughters before it was ‘absolutely trashed’.

The six-bedroom home in a town on the Isle of Wight, was targeted by the ‘mindless’ youths who smashed antiques, ornate stained-glass windows and chopped down a palm tree

The vandalism has caused the property value to decrease by up to £300,000, the court was told, despite the family splashing out tens of thousands on repairs

The Isle of Wight Police said a group of children had been causing havoc in the town of Newport on the Isle of Wight 

Their dream to relocate to the property, however, was shattered when the ‘disgraceful gang’ – which included two girls – left ‘hardly anything untouched.

Lights and bathroom taps were wreaked while the large home was smothered in ketchup, bleach and paint, with Isle of Wight Magistrates Court hearing the property had been left ‘practically uninhabitable’. 

The vandalism has caused the property value to decrease by up to £300,000, the court was told, despite the family splashing out tens of thousands on repairs. 

Seven perpetrators, who are now all aged between 13 and 16 and cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted criminal damage to property at court where they were each fined £1,500.

Prosecutor Ann Smout told the court the offences took place at at the ‘substantial’ building in a town on the Isle Of Wight.

‘Joanna and Matt Pittard were in that address over Easter in April 2022,’ she said. ‘They had a week there and left the property clean and tidy and in very, very good order.’

The couple had been away from the house for a over a month, the court heard, but were alerted by the gardener that there ‘may be some damage’ to the property.

Quickly returning back to the property the next day, the couple heard ‘banging noises’ as it became clear ‘something was going on’ as youths scampered away from the home.  

A court heard chainsaws, axes and sledgehammers were pinched from the garage and used in ‘every bedroom of the property’

The court heard the youngsters were eventually identified but it had ‘taken some time’ to investigate.

Recounting the extent of the damage, Ms Smout told the court Mrs Pittard had been ‘scared’ by noises she heard when she got to the address.

An ornate stained glass window was ‘fully smashed’, along with 22 other windows, a double glazed conservatory door and numerous other handmade hardwood doors – some of which were over 100 years old.

Ms Smout said the garage had been broken into and chainsaws, axes and sledgehammers could be found in ‘every bedroom of the property’.

Inside the house there was ‘significant damage’, which included a grandfather clock being pushed over and ‘completely smashed’ as well as a 5ft-wide wrought-iron chandelier.

In a statement read to the court, Mrs Pittard said: ‘The whole of the property had been damaged. It is mindless and looks like a whirlwind has been through the property.’

The court heard ‘every item of furniture’ had been smashed or damaged in some way and oil and tomato ketchup ‘squirted everywhere’, as well as paint, creosote and bleach.

Paintings hung on the wall had also been broken up and left on the floor, while messages were carved into mahogany window sills and the bannister had been destroyed.

During the weeks of the chaos the children, between the ages of 11 and 15, damaged a wrought-iron chandelier, flipped over antique furniture and even destroyed the homeowner’s beloved wedding dress

Bathroom taps were pulled off and water was gushing everywhere – meaning Mr Pittard had to turn off the water supply as soon as they arrived to try and limit the damage.

The couple found glass scattered ‘everywhere’, graffiti scrawled on walls and ‘hardly anything untouched’.

‘Violated’ Mrs Pittard was horrified to find her wedding dress ‘destroyed’ after being covered in oil, nail vanish and footprints.

Ms Smout told the court the work required was ‘complex’ given the property’s listed status and the need for ‘specialist work’.

The couple have now had to splurge £35,000 on repairs but said it is still ‘absolutely nowhere near finished’.

The court heard carpets needed replacing, as well as a ‘vast amount of electrical work’ and water damage that was ‘much worse than first thought’.

An estate agent said damage to the property had ‘seriously reduced’ its market value by between £250,000 to £300,000.

The couple had hoped to restore antique pieces of furniture and other old items, but an expert said they were ‘so badly damaged’ many were ‘beyond the point of repair or restoration’.

In her statement, Mrs Pittard said the damage was ‘heartbreaking’ and recounted the ‘horrendous’ experience of filling skips with their own belongings.

‘They maliciously chopped down our palm tree and tried to chop down our cherry tree – it looks like a war zone,’ she said. ‘From being a beautiful, historic building, it is a derelict shell of itself.’

After finding a tractor-mower had tried to be set alight, she added: ‘We are horrified at the evil vandalism and attempts at arson at our property.

‘It will take a long time time to recover financially and emotionally from this event.’

In a more recent statement, Mrs Pittard said the now boarded-up house was still ‘in chaos’ and felt she would ‘never fully recover from the experience’.

In interviews with police, the youngsters admitted to various degrees of involvement in their ‘impulsive’ damage, with one revealing they had created a ‘slip and slide’ in the bathroom.

Ms Smout told the court the offence would be treated as ‘joint enterprise’, meaning they are all equally responsible for the ‘vast damage’ that was done to the property.

‘This is one of the most serious cases of this kind I have dealt with,’ Ms Smout added. ‘The full financial cost in damage will never truly be known. 

‘The property was effectively absolutely trashed. This was mindless destruction which has rendered the property practically uninhabitable.’

In mitigation, the court heard the teenagers had expressed their ‘regret and remorse’ for what happened and had all had ‘improvements’ in their behaviour and attitude since.

Magistrates chairman Keith Jones said he was ‘lost for words’ at their ‘disgraceful’ behaviour which had an ‘horrendous’ effect on the family.

Addressing six of the teens, after one’s case was adjourned for a later date, he said: ‘Your behaviour has been appalling and an absolute disgrace to all of you.

‘We will never know who did what or exactly what happened – you are charged as joint enterprise so you are equally responsible. It is a poor reflection on the six of you.’

The teenagers were handed a 12 month referral order and ordered to pay £1,500 compensation for the ‘very personal impact on the family involved’.

‘This is imposed on your parents, but you owe that figure to your parents,’ he added. ‘We certainly don’t want to see any of you back here again.’

MailOnline has contacted Isle of Wight Police regarding the most recent incident in Newport.  

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