End of the road

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RESIDENTS left with a bill of thousands of pounds after more than 20 cars were damaged in one street have slammed a decision not to prosecute those arrested over the matter.

A trail of destruction was left by vandals in Percy Street, off Jesmond Road in Hartlepool, as well as separate attacks on cars in the town’s Windsor Street and Murray Street.

As reported by the Hartlepool Mail at the time, residents woke on Good Friday morning to find deep scratches along the length of their cars.

Now Cleveland Police have confirmed that five youths arrested, aged 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18, have been told they will not be charged.

Today, angry drivers whose cars were targetted have slammed the police’s decision and say they feel they have been let down.

Steve Wallace, chairman of NHS Hartlepool, who lives in the area affected, was outraged when his Volvo C70 and his wife’s Vauxhall Signum were damaged.

He said: “Given the amount of damage in Percy Street alone, the decision not to bring a prosecution against these kids is very annoying to me.

“Other people will think it’s only a scratch to a car, but it’s a very annoying thing when it’s your car and something very valuable to you.

“One woman in the street paid close to a thousand pounds to get her car restored.

“This isn’t some sort of trivial matter, this is something important and I would have liked the police to have recognised that.”

Joe Griffin’s not-for-profit voluntary organisation North East Reptile Pet Rescue, was put out of action for five days when the windscreen of his Subura Impreza was smashed.

Today the 43-year-old dad-of-six, who has invested in a CCTV system outside his house since the incident happened, said: “I’m pretty angry.

“I had to pay £180 for the damage out of my own pocket and it could have gone towards running my rescue service.

“I suppose there’s not much the police can do unless they have evidence, but the British justice system does seem to go in favour of the criminals and not the victims.

“There will be a lot of angry car owners now.”

Inspector Mick Brown, of Hartlepool Police, said: “Unfortunately, taking into account all the evidence as a whole, there was insufficient evidence to prosecute those arrested at that time.

“Police are bound by the rules of evidence and charging standards and we do appreciate how frustrating it is for victims of crime.

“Our appeal for anyone with information regarding the incident remains open and we would urge any witnesses to contact us on the non-emergency 101 number.”