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Last Updated: Monday, 15 January 2007, 16:26 GMT
Vandals target disabilities home
Balcony display during the Paulsgrove estate protest in 2000
Six flats were fire-bombed during the nearby Paulsgrove riots in 2000
Anti-paedophile vigilantes are being blamed for a series of attacks on a home for people with learning disabilities.

Vandals have smashed windows at the house in Sharps Road, Havant, five times and in one incident a resident was chased by 20 youths.

Now Hampshire Police and a housing association are sending out leaflets to dispel the rumours.

They are worried the trouble could escalate into more serious violence.

These are vulnerable people who are now frightened out of their wits and my fear is it is going to get worse
Raife West, Havant Housing Association

The rumours have become so entrenched, parents at a school complained there were paedophiles living nearby.

Hundreds of leaflets have now been delivered to houses, schools and pubs, saying: "We understand that there are rumours that paedophiles are being housed at 50 Sharps Road.

"This is not true. This house has supported clients with learning difficulties without problems for over 12 years."

Up to four people at a time live at the terraced property, which is in a residential area, with the help of support staff.

Raife West, chief executive of Havant Housing Association, said the note was aimed at preventing a repeat of riots in nearby Paulsgrove in Portsmouth.

Flats fire-bombed

In September 2000, six flats belonging to innocent people on the estate were fire-bombed.

Mr West said: "This has been absolutely terrifying.

"It has got so bad we've offered the tenants alternative accommodation but they have refused because this is their home.

"These are vulnerable people who are now frightened out of their wits and my fear is it is going to get worse."

Pc Lucy Maggs, of Hampshire Constabulary, said: "These people are not paedophiles or sex offenders, they are just guys with learning disabilities who are trying to get on with their lives with some sort of independence.

"We need to nip this rumour in the bud because it is dangerous."


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