Sunday, 19 May 2019

Boozy teenagers suspected of ‘sickening’ attack on hall

A VILLAGE hall was trashed by vandals, believed to be teenagers who had been drinking.

A VILLAGE hall was trashed by vandals, believed to be teenagers who had been drinking.

The mess left by the attack on the hall in Stoke Row on the evening of Saturday, October 24 took one woman almost four hours to clean up.

The offenders, who may have gained access because the doors had been left open, left a trail of destruction after:

• Smearing dirt on the floor and walls.

• Ripping a fire extinguisher off the wall and smashing pictures.

• Piercing cold packs used to treat injuries and then squeezing the contents on the floor before stuffing the packs down the disabled toilet.

• Stealing a kitchen bin and child’s potty.

The mess was discovered by villagers hoping to use the hall a few days later and the incident has been reported to the police.

June Chalker, secretary of Stoke Row Club, said: “There were empty beer bottles and broken glass everywhere. They smashed photographs, took the fire extinguisher off the wall and left the place in a mess with mud and glass everywhere.

“The damage outside was discovered on the Sunday but because it was half-term nobody went inside until Tuesday.”

The hall is accessed using a code given to members and Mrs Chalker believes the hall was either accidentally left open or the code was given to a non-member. “It’s sickening,” she said. “We operate this on a trust basis and either someone has left it open and some chancers have come along or someone has told their friends.

“They seem to have been under the influence of alcohol as we found the empty bottles outside.”

Mrs Chalker said she suspected that a group of teenagers went into the hall between 6pm and 11pm.

She said: “I emailed all our members asking if anyone had information. One lady told me she saw four young people walking away at about 11pm and they seemed in hijinks.

“We think there may have been a quad bike involved as there were tracks around the cricket square and circles in the car park.

“We didn’t contact the police at first because it wasn’t a break-in and the only things stolen were a kitchen bin and child’s potty. I have reported it now.” Mrs Chalker cleaned up the hall herself to allow the village Pilates club to use it. “It was absolutely filthy,” she said. “I had to go in with my steam cleaner. There was stuff squirted on to the carpet and even mud walked on the toilet seats.

“It took three or four hours to clean up and I had to rush down to make sure all the broken glass was cleared up in time for the class that day.”

The club has more than 60 members and is used by Peppard/Stoke Row Cricket Club and the village’s cubs and scouts as well as being rented out for children’s parties.

Mrs Chalker said members are trusted with the code but that may now have to change.

She said: “We have already changed the code, which we would normally do once a year. We like to leave it so people can get in if they are using the tennis courts but it’s on a trust basis.

“We’ve had parties before that have got out of hand but nothing like this.”

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