Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Doors Which Could Have Saved Arsema Broken for Months; Stabbed: Former Choirgirl Arsema Dawit "Anyone Could Get In": Farah Carver, above, Claims That for Months Lambeth Council Ignored Residents' Complaints of Problems with the Security Doors and Intercom at Matheson Lang Gardens, Where Arsema Was Killed. New Doors Were Installed Last Friday but Made Operational Only Yesterday

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Doors Which Could Have Saved Arsema Broken for Months; Stabbed: Former Choirgirl Arsema Dawit "Anyone Could Get In": Farah Carver, above, Claims That for Months Lambeth Council Ignored Residents' Complaints of Problems with the Security Doors and Intercom at Matheson Lang Gardens, Where Arsema Was Killed. New Doors Were Installed Last Friday but Made Operational Only Yesterday

Article excerpt

Byline: JACK LEFLEY, BENEDICT MOORE-BRIDGER

SECURITY doors that could have saved stabbed schoolgirl Arsema Dawitwere left in disrepair for months after failures by council bosses.

The broken doors meant that anyone could walk off the street into the blockwhere the former choirgirl was knifed to death in a lift on Monday.

Residents in Matheson Lang Gardens, near Waterloo Station, had fought for atleast three months to get the system fixed amid fears for their safety.

New ground-floor security doors were installed last Friday but only madeoperational yesterday three days after Arsema's death.

Residents today accused Lambeth council of leaving the block unprotected andallowing the killer to strike.

Many had complained after a string of security breaches including: Youths fromother estates using the block to take drugs.

Vandals daubing walls with graffiti and starting fires.

Louts defecating in the building.

Couples having sex on the floor outside tenants' front doors.

Homeless people sleeping in corridors.

Farah Carver, a catering manager, said: "For months anyone has been able to getin here. I complained so many times but the council just ignored us." The43-year-old mother of two added: "They finally locked them yesterdaywhich was too late for this poor girl." The Standard has seen emailsillustrating one resident's three-month battle with town hall chiefs.

Stuart Simpson, an internal control officer with investment bank Calyon CreditAgricole CIB, demanded the problem be fixed to protect him, his girlfriend andother residents.

Mr Simpson, 30, said the council had ignored his concerns and accused them ofnegligence, while other residents claimed the doors had not been functioningproperly for up to a year.

Retired cab driver George Flaxman, 84, said: "The council told me they weregoing to fix the doors and the intercom system but it took them ages. …

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