Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'I Was Woken by Helicopters and Saw Looters Hiding in My Garden'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'I Was Woken by Helicopters and Saw Looters Hiding in My Garden'

Article excerpt

Byline: Miranda Bryant

TERRIFIED residents told how they watched from their windows as hundreds of youths went on the rampage in Brixton in the early hours of today.

About 200 youngsters armed with bats and even a samurai sword set fire to buildings and looted stores in attacks on shops in south London which began before midnight and carried on until 5.30am. Locals described how their houses shook from the sound of police helicopters overhead as teenagers ran amok. Venture de Saboulin, 28, an interior design worker and Brixton resident, said two people were hiding in her garden. She said: "The lights from the helicopters were shining down into our garden, it was like a movie. It was really noisy when I woke up and my housemate said she saw looters hiding behind the house."

Girls as young as 14 were among the ringleaders captured on CCTV laughing and joking as they clashed with police. Even younger children were among those looting stores.

Brixton Tube and rail stations were shut this morning with half of Brixton Road up to the junction with Effra Road behind a police cordon.

Among the shops that were targeted in Brixton town centre were H&M, Body Shop, KFC, McDonald's and Vodafone.

Looters also broke into and set fire to Footlocker and M&S. Tesco in Acre Lane was also hit.

In Effra Road residents told how they saw people running down the road carrying [pounds sterling]2,000 flat-screen televisions looted from Currys.

The disorder erupted after Brixton Splash, a festival in the centre of Brixton, which finished peacefully at 7pm. Trouble broke out after midnight in what appears to have been an organised attack.

One shopkeeper told how messages were sent around on BlackBerrys beforehand to organise the attack.

Leanne Fields, 27, manager of Body Shop in Brixton, witnessed the riots after she was told the store had been broken into. She said: "I got a call at midnight to say there had been intruders and got to the shop at 12.30am. My security guard came here on his own, it took 45 minutes for the police to arrive.

"You can see on the CCTV there were young girls aged 14 to 15 laughing and throwing chairs at police. …

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