Squatters ordered to move

SQUATTERS who moved into an Ipswich woman's home of more than 20 years she was enjoying a weekend away were today given an order to quit.But the stage was set for an angry showdown after an Ipswich judge ordered Kathleen MacKenzie's immediate possession of her Belstead Avenue home – while the squatters pledged to continue their stay.

SQUATTERS who moved into an Ipswich woman's home of more than 20 years she was enjoying a weekend away were today given an order to quit.

But the stage was set for an angry showdown after an Ipswich judge ordered Kathleen MacKenzie's immediate possession of her Belstead Avenue home – while the squatters pledged to continue their stay.

Mrs MacKenzie today described the nightmare of returning from a weekend trip to Oulton Broad on Monday to find their locks changed and four strangers living in their recently-sold home.

She said: "Our clothes were still in the wardrobe. They had moved all our cherished possessions including photographs and momentos, as well as the beds and the TV, into the conservatory. We think the squatters had been watching the property for a fortnight judging when was the best time to make their move. They used threatening and abusive language. I called the police."

She told Ipswich County Court: "I asked them to leave my property and I asked them not to damage my possessions. At no time did I give them possession to occupy the property."

But when the police arrived rather than side with the owners, Mrs MacKenzie claimed, after the hearing, officers refused them entry to their semi-detached home.

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She said: "We were told they couldn't do anything unless there had been something stolen. But they wouldn't even let me in to check."

Mrs Mackenzie had recently sold the property, but had not yet completed on the sale. She had been working with her husband on the on the home, once the family home and now occupied by Mrs MacKenzie's son, Andrew.

Mr Mackenzie visited the property last night with neighbours hoping for a peaceful resolution.

Mrs Mackenzie said: "He was threatened with a chair. All the time the squatters were on the phone to the police telling them they were the victims of unlawful trespassers."

Both parties, including squatters John Hughes, 32, and Victoria Vardy, 20, appeared in Ipswich County Court this morning to hear Mrs Mackenzie's application for possession of her home.

In ordering immediate possession, Judge Peter Thompson said: "I have heard evidence from Mr Hughes saying he is a squatter and a trespasser. I am satisfied there is unlawful possession and unlawful trespass."

He ordered them to pay £1,000 costs to cover the couple's legal fees.

Mr Hughes, who represented himself in court, gave his address as no fixed abode.

He said: "We never broke into this property. It was an empty house. In the time we were there, two attempts were made to unlawfully evict us. I have spoken to the Squatters' Association. All we have done is possess an empty property."

He called the proceedings a "farce" and denied any other people lived in the house also denied harming any possessions in the house.

After the hearing, he said: "We are not going to go."

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