When news happens, text SDE and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
The crack den that plagued a community is shut down
8:43am Saturday 26th January 2013 in News
THE house did not stand out from the other smart Victorian terraced properties on a typical Southampton street.
But what went on between its four walls became a blight on the community.
To the horror of neighbours, those living inside allowed it to become a haven for class A drugs.
People were seen literally “queuing up” for their fix while on other days doorstep deals were being done on an hourly basis.
Residents suffered sleepless nights as drug users urinated on their property, threw stones at windows and banged on doors to get their fix.
Today the house is boarded up and lies empty after magistrates granted permission to close it down and effectively evict Christopher Lord and his mother Christine.
After hearing testimonies from half a dozen residents and police evidence that included carrying out three raids on the Southcliff Road property in the space of a year, Southampton magistrates said they were satisfied there were sufficient grounds to order the crack house closure.
Prosecutor Louise Ravenscroft said the evidence suggested dealers had at times taken over the property to supply drugs, known as “cuckooing”.
She said: “This is a nice, close knit community that genuinely care about each other but there has been a permanent feeling of helplessness over what was going on right on their doorstep.”
Reading statements from neighbours, Miss Ravenscroft told of how one man had lost two stone in weight through stress while another couple described having one Christmas ruined by dealers queuing up outside.
Christopher Lord, 36, who suffers from cancer, deep vein thrombosis and liver disease, denied the scale of the problem.
He said that he no longer uses drugs himself and rarely left the h o u s e due to h i s poor health.
Mr Lord claimed the antisocial behaviour in the area could not all be attributed to his home which was owned by his sister who was working abroad.
Christine Lord, 64, said when she had been served with the closure notice she was “completely shocked” by her neighbours' statements and said she had no idea that drug dealing was happening in her home.
After magistrates granted the closure - thought to be the first that has been granted in the city for six years and will run for three months - as part of Hampshire police's Operation Fortress, the pair were escorted back to the property to collect belongings before being taken to emergency accommodation.
Police officers stood guard as council workers hammered home the nails to board up the property on a cold winter's night. They also pasted up a sign to show how they were working to eradicate drugs from the Southampton neighbourhood.
Minutes after officers from Hampshire Police had seen the mother and son leave the home they were letting people know that the house was now empty.