In the Media

17-year old finally jailed after 'reign of terror'

PUBLISHED December 15, 2006

A teenage thug who drove 15 families from their homes after a reign of terror was finally behind bars yesterday for repeatedly breaching an anti-social behaviour order.

Colleen McDonald, 17, was arrested 48 times in just two years after tormenting dozens of residents who were so terrified of her they renamed their estate "Little Beirut".

During a campaign of violence and intimidation she was held by police for a series of crimes including burglary, vandalism, criminal damage and a variety of public order offences.

She threw paint on cars, hurled drunken abuse at passers-by and was responsible for an unprovoked attack on a 15-year-old girl. Many of her victims were so traumatised they sought counselling.

Yesterday, the vile teenager arrived at court swearing and shouting before being ordered by a judge to serve eight months in a young offenders institution for breaching an interim Asbo order three times.

The order was imposed earlier this year and banned her from entering a number of streets on the Newbiggin Hall Estate in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. But when she flouted the order for a third time last month the local council forcibly evicted the family from their home.

They had initially refused to leave the house but fled when bailiffs arrived - leaving behind walls and doors riddled with holes and a front garden awash with litter and discarded objects.

Ken Nixon and his wife Diane were among scores of residents who terminated their council tenancies or demanded to be rehoused in fear of more attacks by McDonald.

They lived in constant fear of the young thug and, after 10 years on the estate, felt compelled to find another home to protect their two children, aged 11 and 15.

But even as they prepared to rebuild their lives McDonald struck one last time and burgled their home as they transported their possessions to a new address nearby.

"The first six years on the estate were great," said Mrs Nixon, 39. "We would have street parties and barbecues in the summer. But then Colleen and her family moved in and eventually it got to the stage where we would have to sleep during the day.

"Because of the stress and the fear, some weeks would go by where we hadn't had any sleep at all. We went through one year where we barely slept because of the fear of someone breaking in. The children were scared stiff."

She added: "Friends and family stopped visiting us because they were afraid of leaving their car on the street. It was horrible."

The Nixons, like many other residents, had paint thrown at their house windows and tipped all over their car but on each occasion were never able to prove who the culprit was.

Mr Nixon, a 39-year-old unemployed engineer, was even forced to give up work because of the constant fear of attack and now suffers from anxiety and depression.

"The kitchen window would go out once a week," he said. "Sometimes you would come back and there would be a pile of bricks lying in the yard that had missed the window.

"There were times you were worried about standing near the kitchen window to do the washing or put the kettle on in case something would come flying through.

"We had to nail our letterbox shut because we had broken bottles, curry and all sorts of food pushed through."

A diary they and other neighbours kept, detailing the impact she had on their daily lives led to her being handed a full two-year Asbo at Newcastle Magistrates Court.

Insp Steve Robson, who led the investigation into McDonald's campaign of terror, said: "This individual has been a bane on the lives of people living in this area around Newbiggin Hall.

"She has terrorised her neighbourhood with her anti-social behaviour and criminal activity."

Liz Jarvis, from Victim Support, said: "This has been a very difficult and distressing time, not only for those directly affected but also for the wider community."