Public school party leaves £2m Hampstead home ‘trashed’

Pupils from some of North London’s most prestigious schools clash with police after an end-of-term ‘sleepover’ spirals out of control

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The Independent Online

An end-of-term party for public school students went badly awry when gate-crashing, drug-taking and violence left a £2 million home trashed and three teenagers arrested in the street.

Students from some of North London’s most expensive and prestigious schools rented a house in Frognal, Hampstead for one night at a cost of £750. They paid up front in cash, and said they wanted to host a small gathering for up to 30 people.

The owner of the house said she returned the following day to find her house ruined, as well as a large number of canisters of the “laughing gas” drug and a small plastic bag filled with white powder.

Neighbours spoke of how the scenes resembled the 2011 London riots, as police tried to shut down the party last month at around 1.30am. The school pupils hurled verbal abuse at officers and three were bundled into vans on suspicion of public order offences.

The owner, who did not want to be named, said she was forced to call in builders to repair the damage, which she estimated to have cost as much as £15,000.

She said: “I am disgusted at what has happened. These rich kids destroyed bathrooms, sofas, a Jacuzzi. My beautiful home was destroyed.

"I really didn't expect any of this, they said it would just be a small sleepover.

"They were putting paint and petrol everywhere. They smashed an expensive granite sink, ripped up mahogany floorboards and they were flinging my crystal decanters around the place.”

Chris Fallows, 49, a writer who lives in the area, said: “There were about 40 or 50 kids, all well-dressed, and they were yelling right in the cops’ faces.

 “A lot of the kids had their cell phones out and were thrusting them in the faces of the policemen, almost daring them to do something. It was as though they thought they were taking part in some kind of Arab Spring.”

Another resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “It felt like the London riots were starting again outside my house. I thought, 'this is about to go off’.

“Two or three were singled out and flung to the ground and then flung into a van. Nothing like this ever happens in this neighbourhood.”

The house owner said the party-goers had left £480 in cash on a table, apparently to cover repairs. She has so far had little luck chasing them down to recover the rest of the costs. The event was booked under a false name, although two boys from £9,000-a-term Mill Hill School have now been revealed as the organisers.

“I tried to contact the family of one of the boys but his mother left a voicemail on my phone telling me not to contact her child and instead to speak with his father,” she said. “I have tried to ask the boys for help in repairing the house but so far I’ve been practically ignored.”

The owner said the police had told her it was a civil matter, and there was nothing they could do to help beyond dealing with the alleged public order offences.

She said: “I want to warn people. When you’re renting, even through an agency, you have to really get all the details of the people when you take them on. This could happen to anyone.”

The case against a 17-year-old youth charged with a public order offence in connection with disorder in the street was dropped last week. A 17-year-old youth and a 16-year-old have been bailed to return to police at a later date.