Postcard from... Gelsenkirchen
At first there were just a handful of people gathered outside the house on Eppmannsweg – an unremarkable street in a run-down Gelsenkirchen suburb. But with each day more arrived.
They drank beer, pelted the home’s balcony with eggs and paint bombs and screamed the words “child abusers” at the frightened 58-year-old man and his 42-year-old stepson cowering inside. Police arrived and were instantly accused by the 200-strong crowd of “protecting paedophiles”. Officers tried to explain that there were no paedophiles in the house. “Most weren’t interested in that,” one of the officers recalled.
The crowd stayed put until well after midnight. It was a suspicious neighbour who lit the lynch mob’s fuse. She told police she had seen the men take two young children into the house with them. Within a matter of hours, allegations of child abuse appeared on a Facebook site called “Police News Gelsenkirchen”.
The site had nothing to do with the police. The mob arrived all the same. It emerged that the older man had been keeping an eye on his neighbours’ children for years. They used to sit on the playground opposite his house and eat ice cream. “He used to clean their faces afterwards – there was nothing more to it than that,” the officers explained.
The mob has disappeared from Eppmannsweg, but the two men are still barricaded inside their home. The police say they are not eligible for a permanent guard because they are not technically crime victims.
- 1 Three of Pope Francis' relatives die in Argentina car crash, including two young great-nephews
Syria conflict: President Assad finally turns on Isis as government steps up campaign against militant strongholds
Michael Brown shooting: Amnesty International sends team within US for first time as National Guard deployed
Iraq crisis: Islamic State's message to America - 'We will drown you all in blood'
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness
Celebrity Big Brother 2014: Audley Harrison meets Kellie Maloney: 'Was Kellie really the best you could come up with?'
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
World peace? These are the only 11 countries in the world that are actually free from conflict
£30000 - £33000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior DBA (SQ...
£60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Business Anal...
£60000 - £90000 per annum + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Global leading Energy Tra...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...