Vigilante vandals have been accused of defacing a caravan belonging to a family embroiled in ‘gun scare’ accusations at a Winthorpe primary school last week.
Diane Riley says she was devastated to find her son’s caravan had been covered in graffiti while parked near her Spirewic Avenue property last night.
“It’s utterly destroyed, I’m, never going to get the paint off, it’s a right state,” she said.
The 55-year-old former traveller believes the attack was carried because of reports that a BB gun had been fired from her home at Seathorne Primary School pupils last Wednesday.
Diane denies the alleged shooting ever took place and says she was shocked when firearms officers arrived at her house.
“We were all sat in the front garden when the police came with machine guns pointing at us asking my daughter to get away from the table,” she said.
“I’ve never known anything like it.”
A 34-year-old Wainfleet woman was arrested on ‘suspicion of possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of harm’ however no weapon was discovered by police searching the property. The woman was later bailed until September and banned from returning to Winthorpe.
Neither Diane, nor her son who owns the caravan were charged with any crime.
Diane believes the BB gun allegations and other accusations made about her family were fuelled by a neighbourhood vendetta centring on their past with the travelling community.
She says the animosity against her worsened when she accidentally hit a six-year-old child ‘who was playing chicken’ near her home in March.
Although Diane says ‘there are some good people’ living nearby who have supported her through the accusations, she says others have been abusive towards her family.
“I’ve had a hell of a lot of abuse and I can’t take much more because we are completely innocent,” she said.
“I nearly collapsed when I saw the caravan, my son will go crazy.”
Lincolnshire Police are keen to stress that any form of vigilante behaviour will not be tolerated.
Skegness Community Patrol Inspector Colin Haigh said: “Vigilante action inevitably consists of criminal offences and the police are determined to investigate and prosecute anyone engaging in it.
“Whatever the strength of feeling is within a community, people taking the law into their own hands can never help a situation.
“By taking part in vigilante action, people are putting themselves on the wrong side of the law and should expect to be dealt with robustly by the police”.
Anyone who saw or heard any suspicious activity in the area at the time is asked to contact Lincolnshire Police on 101 quoting incident number 194 of 26th July 2013.
Alternatively, call the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.