Council shuts down two suspected drug dens
Council chiefs have successfully closed down two suspected drug dealing dens after fearful residents repeatedly complained about large numbers of noisy visitors with doors slamming and people shouting.
Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard how tenant Mark Adrian Hodson, 41, of Burbage Court, White Edge Close, Loundsley Green, Chesterfield, and tenant Andrew James Millward, 38, of Rivelin Court, on the same road, had opposed the Chesterfield Borough closure applications to evict them.
But District Judge Andrew Davison accepted that disorder around their homes dating back over five years allowed him to grant the civil case closure applications to shut their two council flats down for three months and evict council tenants Mr Hodson and Mr Millward.
Helen Greatorex, prosecuting on behalf of the council, said: “This case is about general complaints about the way the properties have been used.
“It’s said there are large numbers of people coming and going causing noise, a nuisance and a disturbance and there is concern there was drug dealing taking place at the properties.”
A concerned Rivelin Court resident claimed a door to Mr Millward’s home had been heard opening and shutting 59 times during one day and another witness reported the closing and opening of a door 30 or 40 times at the property during another period.
Ms Greatorex stated that witnesses had recalled a BMW car and a Toyota car outside Mr Millward’s home at different times during one evening in November and that Mr Millward had been seen going from his flat to the cars and then going back inside and there were other sightings of vehicles visiting the property at other times.
Witnesses also claimed to have seen people coming and going at all hours to Mr Hodson’s property with reports of the door banging and buzzer going and there were reports of Mr Hodson passing keys through a window so people could get in.
One witness also claimed that the external door leading to Mr Hodson’s home had banged 48 times in one hour.
Another resident from Longshaw Court, on White Edge Close, revealed he had seen a constant flow of people to and from Burbage Court.
He said: “At times it is en-masse and at other times people frequent the property constantly throughout the day and at night time.
“It can be throughout the whole day from early morning up until late at night.”
The concerned Rivelin Court resident said: “Over the last couple of months it’s been very distressing. I live alone and was broken into when I lived in Sutton-in-Ashfield.
“All these activities of people coming in and out make me nervous and I suffer with anxiety and depression.
“It has affected the area and the residents. It’s been very distressing.”
The court heard how a woman known to Mr Hodson and Mr Millward had been evicted from her flat at another nearby block after a closure order had been imposed relating to suspected drug dealing.
Witnesses also claimed four people had been found asleep in the communal area of Mr Hodson’s block of flats.
Multiple sclerosis sufferer Mr Hodson, who has a previous conviction for possessing amphetamine at his home, claimed there were only a handful of regular visitors to his home and he denied being involved in drug dealing or allowing anyone to take drugs into his flat.
Jobless Mr Millward, who is suffering with a heroin addiction, also claimed he had only had several regular visitors to his home and he argued that claims of large numbers of visitors were exaggerated.
The court heard how noises and movements around Mr Millward’s Rivelin Court flat had calmed down after he had been issued a final warning notice from the council about noise and disturbances.
However, District Judge Davison found after the December 20 hearing that there was evidence that both council tenants Mr Hodson and Mr Millward were engaging in disorderly behaviour posing a serious nuisance and closure orders on their council flats would be necessary to stop any recurrences of similar behaviour.
Both Mr Hodson and Mr Millward were given until 9pm, on December 20, to remove their possessions before the three-month closures of the properties were fully enforced.
District Judge Davison, who recognised there had been incidents dating back to 2011, said: “I’m satisfied the case paints a picture of wholly inappropriate and long standing behaviour.”