I was naive, admits girl whose party ruined listed house
Monday 17 March 2008
The teenager whose 18th birthday party was gatecrashed by hundreds of revellers after a "shout-out" by the Radio 1 DJ Pete Tong has admitted being "foolish and naive".
Police were pelted with glass and used dogs to disperse up to 2,000 youths who caused £2,000-worth of damage to a Grade II listed building after Tong announced the party live on air on Friday night.
The programme had been contacted by one of the 300 guests who had been personally invited to the Georgian manor house near Bovey Tracey in Devon by Sarah Ruscoe, 17.
Yesterday Ms Ruscoe, a pupil at Torquay Grammar School, confessed to "putting up a poster at school and inviting 'everyone'".
"Little did I know almost everyone from Torquay Grammar sixth form would attend and what is more invite 'everyone' from different schools and the surrounding area," she said. "Admittedly perhaps I was foolish and naive but how often does a poster cause chaos and devastation?
"I soon realised it was spiralling out of control during the last week of the countdown until the party," she added. "By the last day I felt physically ill with worry but chose to keep my mother in denial for her own sake."
Her mother, Rebecca Brooks, is threatening to sue the BBC after chandeliers were smashed, windows and mirrors cracked, and pictures ripped off walls. "I think it's totally negligent of the BBC to allow a statement like that to be broadcast," Mrs Brooks, 54, said. "There are so many kids around with nothing to do on a Friday night, so when they hear there's about to be a big party on the radio they're going to go."
The BBC denied that a "shout out" by Tong was responsible for the gatecrashers' descent. "Pete did not specify the name or address of the venue, but read out details of a mansion party taking place in Bovey Tracey sent in by a listener," a spokeswoman said. "He gives shout-outs on his show every week – listeners are familiar with this format – and he would never knowingly give an identifiable address for a private party."
The item declared: "We're getting ready for a huge mansion party – 500 people going – it's in Bovey Tracey in Devon, tipping us off on that, anyone who's listening can come along, apparently – just say hi to Marilyn Monroe on the door."
Police officers were not called about the party, but went to the house at 10.30pm after they heard the announcement on Tong's programme. Riot vans and dogs followed. By the time the first police arrived at the house, Ms Ruscoe had set off the fire alarm to try to discourage gatecrashers. Four bouncers hired to oversee security had been overwhelmed.
Ms Ruscoe said she "went into hiding for a while", and broke down in tears before police had dispersed the last of the revellers.
Blocking the private drive to the house to stop the gatecrashers returning, police pushed the youths back toward Bovey Tracey, a small town on the edge of Dartmoor. After taxis were ordered to clear lingering partygoers, police reported disturbances in two nearby pubs and made three arrests.
The party had also been advertised on the social networking sites MySpace and Facebook.
The 21-bedroom house, Colehayes Park, stands in 20 acres of grounds and is used as a venue for school trips and weddings.
The party was to mark Ms Ruscoe's 18th birthday later this year.
Teenage parties from hell
*RACHEL BELL, 17
She was questioned by police in April last year after using the internet to invite teenagers from across the country to come to a wild party and "trash" her parents' home in Co Durham while they were away. More than £20,000-worth of damage was caused when 200 revellers descended on the £230,000 detached house in a quiet cul-de-sac near near Houghton-le-Spring. Describing the bash as a "Skins Unofficial Party", a reference to the Channel 4 drama series about the exploits of teenagers, she promoted her party on the social networking website MySpace, calling it a "let's trash the average family-sized house disco party".
*COREY DELANEY, 16,
Five hundred teenagers attended a party at his home in Melbourne, Australia. Police who came to investigate noise were driven off by drunken guests. By the time reinforcements arrived with dogs, revellers had caused £9,200-worth of damage. Delaney told reporters that he was giving up plans to become a carpenter, and would instead become a DJ and a professional party host.
*GEMMA JOHNSON, 15
She could not resist issuinga few more invites than her mother had initially agreed to when she asked if she could host a quiet "sleepover" at the family home. More than 50 youngsters converged on the newly decorated £250,000 house on a quiet street in Woking, Surrey, causing more than £5,000-worth of damage, stealing jewellery and laptops and leaving graffiti. Gemma's mother and stepfather returned from what was meant to be a relaxing weekend in London to find the family dog "comatose" on the kitchen floor after it had chewed on unidentified pills.
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