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Two arrested after vigilantes targeting sex offender mistakenly destroy neighbour’s car

PUBLISHED: 18:30 22 September 2017 | UPDATED: 19:17 22 September 2017

Damage caused by the attacks at Russell Street. Picture: Dominic Gilbert

Damage caused by the attacks at Russell Street. Picture: Dominic Gilbert

Archant

A community in Norwich has said they are “angry and fed up” with rising crime after a neighbour’s car was mistakenly destroyed by vigilantes targeting a registered child sex offender.

Russell Street, Norwich. Picture: Andrew Stone Russell Street, Norwich. Picture: Andrew Stone

This week a resident’s association has been formed around Russell Street and Clifton Street to put a stop to anti-social behaviour in the area, and police have warned people not to take the law into their own hands.

One resident, 70, had his car doused in petrol and burned out on June 11. It came just weeks before violent attacks directed at a convicted sex offender, who has since been moved from the area for their own protection.

On September 3 a petrol bomb was thrown at the offender’s flat, with mattresses set ablaze outside the property. A car belonging to a neighbour also had its windows smashed and was destroyed in a case of mistaken identity.

The owner of the car, a 26-year-old woman with a new baby who did not want to be named, said she is now living in fear and wants to leave the area.

Damage caused by the attacks at Russell Street. Picture: Dominic Gilbert Damage caused by the attacks at Russell Street. Picture: Dominic Gilbert

She said on September 3: “There were fires everywhere. It was like bonfires.”

“They smashed his window and they smashed all the windows in my car,” she added. “I have to live here and it is just not safe. My partner saw the car happen. They came with masks and what was maybe an axe. We didn’t sleep all night because we didn’t feel safe.

“There was a baby seat and a pram inside the car at the time and they just didn’t care. What kind of people are they?

“I just want to move away from here. In the day it looks nice and peaceful but it is getting worse.”

Damage caused by the attacks at Russell Street. Picture: Dominic Gilbert Damage caused by the attacks at Russell Street. Picture: Dominic Gilbert

The 70-year-old, who asked not to be named, had his Renault Scenic set aflame. No arrests have been made and it is not being linked to the September attacks.

“There was a petrol can on the roof and petrol rags under the wiper blades,” he said. “It flooded the car and caused an even bigger fire.

“We have started a resident’s association because we are just fed up with all the anti-social behaviour that has been happening lately. A lot of people around here are angry about it.

“It is a vendetta against decent people.”

Two arrests have been made in connection with the petrol bomb attack and released under investigation. After four firearms and a grenade were found in a property on Wednesday in a separate incident, Alexander Lloyd-Wickins, 23 of Clifton Street, has been charged with threatening behaviour. He has been released on bail to appear before Norwich Magistrates Court on October 10.

As the weapons were deactivated they are exempt under the Firearms Act.

Totally unacceptable

Two suspects have been questioned by detectives over the vigilante attacks and released under investigation.

A Norfolk Police spokeswoman said: “This was a very serious incident and it was fortunate no one was injured. We do understand the concern this caused in the community and increased patrols in the area in the immediate aftermath of the attack to provide reassurance.

“Investigations have continued and two people, a man in his mid-20s and a teenage girl, have since been arrested in connection with this incident. The man was questioned in relation to arson and both suspects were questioned in relation to criminal damage to a building and vehicle. Both have been released under investigation while enquiries continue.

“While the investigation is ongoing, we do believe this was a targeted attack. It wasn’t just the person targeted but others who were harmed as a result. This behaviour is totally unacceptable and we warn against people taking the law into their own hands.”

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