Ipswich tenant fined after smashing every window of alleged drug-dealer’s Audi

Christchurch Street Ipswich

Christchurch Street Ipswich

An Ipswich tenant smashed every window of an alleged drug-dealer’s car because he believed police had failed to take action.

James Erith

James Erith - Credit: Archant

Despite being ordered to pay more than £500 by Ipswich magistrates, James Erith, 47, said he felt his actions were worthwhile as the man has now been evicted.

Erith took the law into his own hands after he and other residents were plagued by drug runners and anti-social behaviour at a block of flats in Christchurch Street.

After his hearing, Erith, a steel fixer, said: “I would rather not be £500 out of pocket. I’ve lost a day’s wages. I would much rather I hadn’t had to do that. (But) It’s worthwhile because they are gone.

“I don’t want to make myself out to be a hero. I know all my neighbours. They are nice, so when these people turned up it really annoyed me.”

Erith said after the alleged drug-dealer moved in around Christmas all sorts of people would come and go late at night, including prostitutes. There was also lots of noise, including loud music.

Residents were said to have been abused, allegedly by the man and those he used to run drugs.

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Erith, who has lived in his flat for eight years, added: “They were generally foul. They were extremely anti-social. For example, they used pushbikes to do the drug-running and they came hurtling down the pavement regardless of who was there.

“I saw transactions go on in the street. There weren’t very subtle about it.

“When I realised what they were up to I went to my neighbours and got on to the landlord who is a good guy.

“The landlord subsequently told me he had begun eviction procedures and they got turfed out.”

During the court case, Erith admitted criminal damage valued at £1,000 to an Audi A4 on March 18. He also pleaded guilty to causing £100 damage to a door frame.

Ian Devine, prosecuting, said Erith used a collapsible shovel to smash each of the car’s windows and windscreens, along with its tail lights, before kicking open the owner’s front door.

Erith told police he returned home at around 4.30pm and had consumed five to six cans of lager before visiting a neighbour.

Erith then went to the shops and saw the alleged drug-dealer on his return, before getting the shovel and damaging his car.

Representing himself, Erith told magistrates drug runners also lived at the flat, claiming there had been at least four complaints made, not including his own.

In addition Ipswich MP Ben Gummer and councillor Inga Lockington had been contacted.

Erith added: “The reason I took those actions was because I had already complained to police six weeks previously and nothing had happened.

“They (the alleged dealers) became more reckless, dealing in the street. Their behaviour to all the neighbours was extremely abusive.”

Erith said he would pay whatever fine the court imposed, but added: “I would object strongly to any order for compensation to (the owner).”

The Audi was said to have later been crushed due to unpaid parking fines.

After the hearing a spokeswoman for Suffolk Constabulary said: “Police were aware of issues at the location earlier in the year and dealt with several crimes, including this damage offence.

“Suffolk police’s community safety team worked with the landlord of the premises during this period.

“Officers will respond where information is passed to them. However, there is a requirement to gather evidence before proceeding to a prosecution.”