Jacaranda Avenue in Tweed Heads West is at the centre of a spill between residents and a local youth gang.
Jacaranda Avenue in Tweed Heads West is at the centre of a spill between residents and a local youth gang. CRYSTAL SPENCER

Residents fightback against gang

FED-UP residents of Jacaranda Avenue and surrounding streets are banding together to defend themselves from a youth gang which has terrorised the neighbourhood and allegedly driven a man to take his own life.

Residents around the Tweed Heads West street will hold a public meeting in three week’s time to discuss “sensible ideas,” including improved lighting, to help put the youth problem in the area to rest.

Organiser Kerry Gadsby, sister of Riviera Avenue resident Philip Gadsby, 47, who was attacked on Jacaranda Avenue last week, said concern about the area had grown around the Tweed. Ms Gadsby’s brother was attacked with a cricket bat last Saturday by up to 15 youths, who later in the week tried to break into his house.

“We really need to do something about this. Friends and families of the people living there are scared for them,” Ms Gadsby said.

“We need some sensible ideas and we would like to invite local politicians and the police to join us. We want to do it correctly.

“This meeting will let them know the public will not stand for this any longer.

“It’s escalating every day.”

Ms Gadsby said residents would target the parents of the youths they believed were involved.

“We just want to make sure they’re aware of what is going on,” she said.

Police yesterday said they would not condone the formation of any violent vigilante groups, warning residents that they could end up in court if action was taken.

“Police do not condone any criminal activity of any kind,” Acting Region Commander Detective Superintendent Geoff McKechnie said yesterday.

“Anyone who breaks the law will be subject to police action and will be put before the court.”

Det Spt McKechnie said Tweed Heads police were investigating matters in the street.

“I believe the community can be confident that criminal and anti-social behaviour will be dealt with.”

Several residents of the Tweed Heads West neighbourhood said they feared for their lives and were frustrated with the police response.

The matter was bought to public awareness last month when Martin Grove, 62, fatally shot himself in the front yard of the youths he believed were responsible for a series of incidents of harassment and bullying.

According to friends and family he had been targeted by the gang for more than a year and could handle the torment no longer.

A Riviera Avenue resident, who did not want to be named for fear of retaliation, said the information which had become public was only a fraction of what actually happened in the street.

“They’re real thugs. They attack anyone,” the resident said.

“A lot of people are frightened of them. We’re getting together to protect ourselves.”

The resident said he was also attacked by up to six youths, and his children, aged 7 and 11, had been bullied by the youth gang.

“This has to be dealt with before someone else gets killed,” he said.

A spokeswoman for NSW Police Minister Michael Daley said criminal acts would not be tolerated.

“In the past year the Tweed/Byron Local Area Command has taken legal action in well over 1200 cases against young people for a variety of offences including stealing and public mischief,” the spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman said ‘proactive policing’ was being carried out in and around Jacaranda Avenue.

“Police have advised that they are carrying out increased patrols in the Tweed Heads West area,” she said.

“Police have further advised that this will continue until the issues are properly resolved.”

Neighbourhood Watch Tweed Heads West secretary Pam Murphy said the group would write to Tweed MP Geoff Provest for assistance in the matter.

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