Facebook birthday party’s R419k bill
The soft drinks and snacks were laid out, the music set to a sensible level and, more importantly, Mum was on hand to police proceedings.
But Sarah Hine’s early 15th birthday party soon spiralled out of control after word spread on Facebook and Twitter, attracting a crowd of about 800 teenagers by one estimate.
Over the next couple of hours – before police arrived and called time – the youngsters left an extraordinary trail of destruction that will cost up to £30 000 to put right.
Offensive graffiti was scrawled on walls, doors were torn from their hinges and shelves were pulled down with their contents scattered around.
The ceiling was left with a gaping hole after a group of teenagers got into the loft and leapt around on the insulation before one fell through.
Rumours on Twitter suggested a hedgehog was flushed down a toilet and someone defecated on a bed. Another report suggested a grand piano had been thrown into the garden from the £305 000 five-bedroom semi-detached home in Billericay, Essex.
Sarah’s family denied this yesterday, saying it was an upright piano that had been in the garden at the start of the party but was destroyed by revellers.
But one uncontested fact is that the 14-year-old’s mother, Esther, 56, is now counting the cost following the sickening realisation their insurers will not pay for repairs as the revellers were invited into her home.
‘I am stunned. Why would they do this?’ said local church leader Mrs Hine, whose desperate pleas to party-goers were ignored as she tried to maintain control.
‘There must be £20 000 to £30 000 damage but insurance won’t pay out because we invited them in.
‘I told the parents I would be here to keep an eye out for trouble. There wasn’t supposed to be drink but the police told me they confiscated an unbelievable amount of alcohol from the groups.’
Mrs Hine admitted she had ignored warnings two weeks ago from her daughter’s school that trouble was expected.
Staff at Anglo European School in Ingatestone - rated one of the best state schools in the country - warned against the open invitation that had been posted on Facebook.But the mother of two, who is married to computer consultancy owner Andrew, 60, and has a second daughter, Rachel, 19, said: ‘I just didn’t think this would happen. I knew Sarah knew some people but did not expect that many to turn up.’
The party, ahead of Sarah’s 15th in February, began at 7pm on Friday and the chaos started within minutes, with people spilling out on to the road outside.
One neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: ‘It was like Belfast in the 1970s out there. It was terrifying. There were hundreds of people out to cause trouble.’
Another said: ‘It was absolute carnage as there were children pouring out of the house.
‘I would have said there was about 800 of them when the police turned up at around 8.30pm. They were trying to escape up the road, not realising it was a cul-de-sac.’
Sarah Hine’s name was even ‘trending’ on Twitter at one stage due to the number of photographs being tweeted by revellers.
Essex Police said no one was injured at the party – the party-goer who fell through the ceiling appears to have had a lucky escape as a double bed was immediately below.
A spokesman said: ‘Police were called after calls from residents regarding nuisance behaviour in the street. Officers found a large number of teenagers had visited the area to attend a party advertised openly on social media.
‘No arrests were made and no complaints were made regarding criminal damage.’
Three months ago 17-year-old A-grade student Jay Whiston was stabbed to death at a party in nearby Colchester that was gatecrashed by youths who had learned about it on Facebook. And last week 21-year-old Ollie Boorman was convicted of causing a public nuisance after more than 1,000 attended a wild party advertised on social media, forcing Hertfordshire Police to call in reinforcements to close a nearby main road and disperse the crowds.
A spokesman for Anglo European School said: ‘We were saddened to hear about the damage caused to one of our pupils’ homes.
‘We were aware that the party was being advertised on Facebook and advised the mother and daughter of the risks this posed. We regularly speak with our students about the dangers of social media.’ - Daily Mail