WATCH: Rough sleeper lashes out at 60-year-old woman in secluded city garage complex
PUBLISHED: 08:05 29 December 2018 | UPDATED: 13:07 31 December 2018
This is the shocking moment a rough sleeper lashed out at a 60-year-old woman in an underground garage complex in Norwich.
The incident took place as the victim attempted to reverse her car from her garage at St Michael-at-Plea in the Tombland area of the city.
A man sleeping opposite begins verbally abusing her, before punching and spitting at her vehicle as she attempts to escape.
The secluded complex, which is accessed off Princes Street, has become a hot-spot for heroin addicts and rough sleepers.
Earlier this year it was labelled as one of the “drug centres” of Norwich, despite being regularly used by the elderly and young families.
Now, the company that manages the complex is having to draft in security to ensure the people living there are kept safe.
The victim, who did not want to be named, said the latest incident had left her “terrified” to use her garage.
She said: “As I came in they were sleeping in the garage opposite and I asked them if they would mind moving because I needed to back the car out.
“I had to get my bike out first and I felt a bit uneasy so I locked it.
“He [the rough sleeper] got up and started waving me back, but as I swung my car out, he went over to my bike and started saying how nice it was, putting his hand on the handlebars.
“When people start doing things like that your alarm bells start ringing.
“I think I said leave it alone, and sort of waved my hand to make him go away.
“He then started screaming at me and that is when I got really frightened.”
CCTV of the incident shows how the situation escalated in a matter of seconds.
As the woman climbs inside her car, the man punches the side of the vehicle.
He then appears to spit at it, before punching it again as she drives out of the car park to escape.
“I just felt terror,” the woman said. “It just shows how quickly things can escalate and how volatile a situation can become”
The incident happened at about 8am on December 20 in the corner of the garage complex.
The victim said she immediately called police and CCTV shows officers arriving minutes later.
However, by the time they police get on scene, the attacker had already disappeared.
The latest incident highlights the safety concerns previously raised by residents about the garages.
Paul Beglarian, director of Link Up Properties, which manages the complex, said the situation with rough sleepers and addicts had become worse in recent years.
He said: “It would take a hard man not to feel sympathy for the situation they find themselves in, but they don’t help their cause.
“They are defecating down there, and leaving needles and [heroin] wraps behind.
“If they were just sleeping, it would not be so much of a problem. But it is the health and safety issues they cause.”
Mr Beglarian said St Michael-at-Plea is made up of 26 properties. Residents included elderly people and young families.
“There are about 70 to 80 people exposed to risk,” he said. “If addicts are high, we are aware that one of our residents could get attacked.
“The young ladies in that particular development don’t feel safe down there.”
He said a security company is due to undertake a health and safety audit of the area in early January.
Once complete, security staff will begin monitoring the garage area.
Photographs taken from the complex in March show needle casings, faeces and heroin wraps littered outside the lock-ups.
In February, two garages also had their doors kicked in and turned into temporary squats.
Speaking earlier this year, a 26-year-old woman who lived at St Michael-at-Plea said she had been forced to remove drug paraphernalia to access her garage.
“It has been getting increasingly worse to the point that I am now scared to walk around the complex, especially at night,” she said.
The latest victim, who has lived at St Michael-at-Plea since March 2017, said she felt it was only a matter of time before “something more serious” happens.
“It has been getting worse,” she said. “I am terrified to go down there now.”
• Norfolk police confirmed it is investigating the incident. Anyone with information should call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.