Police victory over Ipswich crack house

SCARED residents are today hoping their once respectable street can return to normal after being plagued by criminals now that a crack house has been formally closed down.

SCARED residents are today hoping their once respectable street can return to normal after being plagued by criminals now that a crack house has been formally closed down.

The residents of Wellington Street in Ipswich were just beginning to recover from the horror of learning they lived near a convicted paedophile when it was discovered a crack cocaine dealer had moved into the same flat.

But today the crack house has been boarded up and Suffolk Housing Society has become the first social landlord in the region to be granted a closure order under the new Anti Social Behaviour Act.

The society worked with Ipswich police to win the closure order – but it was granted with just minutes to spare on a tight deadline.


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South East Suffolk magistrates in Ipswich heard yesterday that when paedophile Nicholas Gregory was imprisoned for five years in April, instead of returning his rented flat keys to landlords, he passed them on to Derek Foster, a known crack dealer from Nottingham, who then set up business there.

Solicitor Ian Seeley told magistrates neighbours had become concerned about the number of people visiting the flat, saying people arrived in cars and on foot 24 hours a day.

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Mr Seeley said: "He moved into the premises as a squatter and police received intelligence from Nottingham that he was a crack user and was selling it to others from the flat.

"There were complaints from the public and evidence from the housing association that there was a large number of customers at all times of the day and night."

Inspector Mark Lewis of Ipswich police gave evidence at the hearing told of reports of noisy arguments and fights in the street, as well as groups of drug users waiting near the flat to meet with Foster.

One police officer who visited the flat found 17 wraps – used for cocaine and ecstasy – in bushes outside a window.

Insp Lewis added the Anti Social Behaviour Act meant residents did not need to give evidence in court – overcoming fears about retaliation.

Magistrates were told the flat is now empty, with Foster leaving shortly after a search warrant was carried out there. No drugs were found and no arrests were made.

The order was granted and police immediately went to Wellington Road to post the notices. Both Insp Lewis and the Suffolk Housing Society welcomed the result.

Isobel Ward, housing area manager said: "It is very rare for us to have serious problems like this.

"This was four weeks from beginning to end, it has come to an end very quickly and we are incredibly grateful for all the support we have had from the police, it is good to be able to respond to tenants and see that we can work in this way."

Is enough being done to rid our town of drugs? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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