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Marriaqua man living in torment

Marriaqua man living in torment

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For over a year, Hugh Stewart’s life has been made a living hell.

His house has been broken into and ransacked multiple times, threatening messages have been written on the walls inside and outside his home, and – most recently – one of his vehicles was set on fire.{{more}}

And in spite of the gravity of these attacks, Stewart believes that the police are not taking enough action to capture the perpetrator, and help return some semblance of normality to his life.

“Very frustrated” with the lacklustre response from the police, he asserted: “I don’t think the Marriaqua Valley is adequately equipped with police services.”

For Stewart, who is a prominent farmer living in Collins, his woes began just over a year ago when he discovered a firearm that had been hidden in his downstairs storeroom following a break-in.

“I saw an item in a plastic bag which appeared to be unusual. So, I called the Mesopotamia Police… and they examined it and concluded it was a firearm – and they took it away. Ever since then, I have been harassed, tormented,” he explained.

A few days after finding the gun, someone broke down the door to his office, which is on the same premises as his house and farmlands, and wrote a profanity-laced message on the wall – warning him to give back the gun that had been left in his storeroom.

“I believe it’s the same person!”

Stewart said that following that break-in, he wrote a message for the perpetrator(s) on a blackboard kept outside his office.

“I just put a note at the time: ‘I don’t have your gun, I don’t need your gun. I don’t like playing games’. And after that, they broke into the house several times.”

Stewart recalled that every time the perpetrator(s) broke into his abode, he/she not only stole some items, but also caused a lot of damage to his property.

This damage included breaking windows, cutting electricity cords, breaking equipment, spilling chemicals stored in the house onto the dining room table, and scribbling more profane messages on the walls, among other things.

Three months ago, two banana sheds on Stewart’s land were burnt down; and three weeks ago, the perpetrator(s) struck again. As per usual, a message was written on a wall, but this time, it was more specific – a threat to burn down Stewart’s house and vehicle.

Sadly, that threat was realized last Saturday, August 22, two days after the perpetrator(s) had broken in yet again, making off with his cell phone and a bunch of keys that accessed his house, office, storerooms and vehicle.

Stewart recalled: “About minutes to eight, I was lying down upstairs reading… then I heard an explosion; I saw the vehicle on fire.”

He said after the alarm was raised, neighbours helped to put out the blaze before the fire services arrived.

“The next morning, the hose we had used to out the fire was cut!”

Stewart said that throughout this entire ordeal, he has always reported the incidents to police officers, both in the Mesopotamia and Kingstown stations.

Stewart, who mostly lives alone, said that he has no idea who is causing him this trouble, but he is determined to stand his ground, as he refuses to let anyone chase him out of the home he has lived in for almost 20 years.

Declaring that he is not worried for his safety, Stewart asserted: “I worry for their safety – the people who are attacking me! I am well-protected physically…”

Stewart said that a police officer suggested to him that he should not stay on the property, but he scoffed at the notion.

“Here is where I live!”

SEARCHLIGHT contacted head of the Criminal Investigation Department Superintendent Ruth Jacobs, who said that to her knowledge, the police at Mesopotamia Police Station should be handling the matter.

Jacobs also said that having heard of the incident on Saturday, she will be checking into the progress of the investigation. (JSV)

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