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EXCLUSIVE: Father says son, 13, who was part of group that ransacked couple’s £1.2m Isle of Wight home targeted it because it is HAUNTED – as he insists his boy is ‘sorry for what he did… even if he hasn’t said it’


The father of one of the young vandals who broke into a couple’s £1.2million Isle of Wight home before smashing antiques, paintings and stained-glass windows today spoke of his ‘shock and shame’ as he revealed his son has not even apologised. 

Joanna and Matt Pittard’s six bedroom house on the Isle of Wight was targeted by ‘mindless’ youths who also damaged a wrought-iron chandelier, flipped over antique furniture and destroyed the homeowner’s wedding dress.

Chainsaws, axes and sledgehammers taken from the garage were used in ‘every bedroom of the property’ after the youngsters ran riot, leaving it looking like ‘a war zone’.

Now the father of one of the ‘evil child vandals’ says he wants to personally apologise to the Pittards, who have been left ‘devastated’ by the damage caused to their beautiful home while they were away. 

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline from his home in Shanklin, on the island, he said: ‘When the police showed me the video of the damage caused I was really shocked. Totally shocked. I couldn’t believe what they had done. It was awful. There was so much mess and damage.

‘I really do feel so sorry for the owners. If I saw them, I would apologise for what my son did. They did not deserve this. I just feel shame.’

The father said his son and his friends had targeted the house as it was supposed to be haunted. The Grade II listed building features in the Ghosts of Isle of Wight book and is a stopping off point for ghost walks in the area.

Joanna and Matt Pittard's house was ransacked by a gang of youths, who destroyed her beloved wedding dress (pictured)

Joanna and Matt Pittard’s house was ransacked by a gang of youths, who destroyed her beloved wedding dress (pictured)  

Smashed, missing or boarded up windows can be seen at the six-bedroom property. Today, a father of one of the boy's involved said he was 'ashamed'

Smashed, missing or boarded up windows can be seen at the six-bedroom property. Today, a father of one of the boy’s involved said he was ‘ashamed’

A close up photo of one of the boarded up windows at the couple's £1.2m Isle of Wight home

A close up photo of one of the boarded up windows at the couple’s £1.2m Isle of Wight home  

‘The house isn’t too far from where we live. I think they chose it because it was supposed to have a ghost. It is close by and that was probably the reason they went inside.’

The teenager lives with his father and his partner in a terraced home that is a far cry from the splendour of the vandalised house which the Pittard family planned to use as a second home.

His son, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was 13 when he joined the group of local youths, one as young as 11, to smash up the Pittard’s house.

The gang of seven, who are now all aged between 13 and 16 and cannot be named for legal reasons, caused mayhem when they broke into the property last May.

Bleach, paint and ketchup was splattered around the house in the popular tourist town of Shanklin leading to the value of the home to reduce by £300,000.

The gang, who were described in court as ‘evil’, also attempted to set fire to the house and turned on the bathroom taps to flood the home.

Graffiti was also scrawled over the walls and glass from shattered windows all over the place.

Mrs Pittard said she felt ‘violated’ after seeing the damage caused by the mob.

The teenager, who is now aged 14 was given a 12-month referral order and ordered to pay £1,500 compensation to the Pittards after pleading guilty to criminal damage.

The others, including two girls, were each given the same sentence when they appeared at Isle of Wight Magistrates Court.

At the time of the vandalism their ages ranged from 11 to 15.

The father, a shop assistant, who also has a 17-year-old son, admitted his son has not fully apologised for the damage caused.

He said: ‘I know in his own way he is sorry, but he has never said it to me. I know he will not do anything like this again and has not been in any trouble since last year. He has behaved.

‘When I first spoke to him about it he told me he had just smashed a window.

‘But at the Shanklin Police station I told him to tell the truth and it all came out. He was only 13 at the time, but that is no excuse. He was with the group that did all this damage’

These windows had been smashed by the group of children. The father said his son had not even apologised for what he had done

These windows had been smashed by the group of children. The father said his son had not even apologised for what he had done  

The vandalism has caused the property value to decrease by up to £300,000, the court was told, despite the family splashing out tens of thousands on repairs

The vandalism has caused the property value to decrease by up to £300,000, the court was told, despite the family splashing out tens of thousands on repairs

The father said police took his clothes away for DNA testing and believes they were able to identify him from descriptions given to them by neighbours.

He was also told some of the gang had been caught on doorbell cameras as they walked to and from the home.

It is a council owned terraced property close to a busy road lined with hotels and bed and breakfast houses catering to the tourist trade on the island.

One of the oldest teens lives on a sprawling council estate on the outskirts of Newport while another lives not far away in home where the front garden is littered with rubbish, empty beer cans and broken pieces of furniture.

The Pittards, who have two young daughters and live near Newbury in Berkshire, had been at the house over the Easter holidays in 2022.

When they returned after a month’s absence they heard banging noises and saw the teens running away.

Inside, the family discovered the full extent of the mindless vandalism carried out by the gang.

An ornate stained glass window was smashed along with 22 other windows. Hand carved wooden doors over 100 years old had been smashed and a 5ft wide wrought iron chandelier also destroyed.

Mrs Pittard's wedding dress (pictured) was even destroyed in the raid which knocked thousands of pounds off the value of their time

Mrs Pittard’s wedding dress (pictured) was even destroyed in the raid which knocked thousands of pounds off the value of their time

The magistrates’ court was told every piece of furniture had been smashed or damaged in some way with oil and ketchup squirted everywhere.

Paintings had been broken up and messages carved into wooden window sills.

In an impact statement Mrs Pittard, an artist, said she had felt ‘violated’ and described the ‘horrendous’ experience of clearing up as her possessions had to be thrown into a skip.

She said the family were unlikely to ever recover from the experience.

‘It looks like a war zone. From being a beautiful historic building, it’s a derelict shell of itself,’ Mrs Pittard said in an impact statement.

The father of the teen admitted he felt nothing but sympathy for the Pittards.

‘I really can’t imagine how they must have felt. I do feel sorry for them. I don’t know them, and have never met them, but would say sorry if I bumped into them.

During the weeks of the chaos the children, between the ages of 11 and 15, damaged a wrought-iron chandelier, flipped over antique furniture and even destroyed the homeowner's beloved wedding dress

During the weeks of the chaos the children, between the ages of 11 and 15, damaged a wrought-iron chandelier, flipped over antique furniture and even destroyed the homeowner’s beloved wedding dress

‘My son has upset the whole family, but he really doesn’t want to talk about it.

‘I’m a bit frustrated and angry that he doesn’t say anything.

He said he will now struggle to pay the £1,500 compensation imposed as part of the sentence.

‘I don’t have that sort of money. I suppose they will have to take it from my benefits. I wasn’t expecting it to be that much,’ he said.

The father did not attend court to see his son sentenced as he was working in a supermarket.

‘This all happened over a year ago and he has not been in any trouble. He is doing well at school and will soon be doing his GCSEs.’

A court heard chainsaws, axes and sledgehammers were pinched from the garage and used in 'every bedroom of the property'

A court heard chainsaws, axes and sledgehammers were pinched from the garage and used in ‘every bedroom of the property’

Neighbours who tipped off police about the mindless vandals said they left the house with a ‘smug look’ on their faces.

The police investigation was carried out by the South Wight Neighbourhoods Policing Team.

PC James Carey, who led the investigation, said: ‘The children involved in this case caused an overwhelming amount of damage to this property, which naturally has caused unimaginable stress to the homeowners.

‘When it comes to dealing with young offenders, in the majority of cases the most suitable option is to work closely with Youth Offending Teams and local diversionary services to divert youngsters away from crime, and set them on the right path so they can make a positive contribution to society.

‘We don’t want to unnecessarily criminalise children, so will always seek the most proportionate route to dealing with young people whose behaviour has crossed the line into criminality.

‘The sheer level of destruction caused to this house, and the impact this has had on the victims, speaks for itself and it is only right that this is reflected through charges brought to court.’



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