'Knife-culture' community hits back

A COMMUNITY leader has defended the reputation of a large housing estate after a judge criticised the area at the end of a murder trial.Judge Christopher Ball QC ruled that “a terrible sub-culture of drugs and knives” in and around the Greenstead area of Colchester was partly to blame for a cashpoint killing in September of last year.

A COMMUNITY leader has defended the reputation of a large housing estate after a judge criticised the area at the end of a murder trial.

Judge Christopher Ball QC ruled that “a terrible sub-culture of drugs and knives” in and around the Greenstead area of Colchester was partly to blame for a cashpoint killing in September of last year.

He made his statement as he sentenced two brothers for the fatal stabbing of Westley Odger, 27, at the Hunwicke shopping parade on the Greenstead estate.

Andrew Fredericks, 32, of Whybrews, Colchester, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.


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Mark Fredericks, 37, of Avon Way, Colchester, was jailed seven years for manslaughter.

The judge told the brothers, each of whom had blamed the other for the stabbing: “There is a terrible sub sub-culture of drugs and knives that exists in and around the area where you live. That cannot be dismissed.”

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But yesterday Tim Young, Colchester Borough councillor for St Andrews ward, which includes Colchester's Greenstead estate, defended its record.

Mr Young said: “If anybody visits Greenstead they'll find it a perfectly safe and pleasant place - 99.9% of people who live here are decent and good people who respect the community they live in.

“The police will tell you that we need to get on top of petty crime and anti-social behaviour.

“I'm not denying that there are drug related crimes in Colchester but I don't know what figures the judge is basing his comments on.”

Greenstead is one of the largest council estates in Europe with around 3,500 homes, dating from the 1950s, '60s and '70s.

It acquired a reputation as a troublespot in Colchester in the 1970s when robberies and violent crime became common occurrences.

However, Mr Young said that many improvements had been made in the area since then and it no longer deserved that reputation.

It now has its own primary health care facility, the only local housing office in Colchester and a modern community centre.

Robert Davidson, leader of Colchester Borough Council, said that although the Greenstead area needed more support than other areas of Colchester, he felt the judge's comments were not justified.

Meanwhile Sergeant Dean Chappell, of the police team that covers the Greenstead area, said: “I would not say we have a serious problem at all.

“It seems to be a national issue rather than just a Greenstead one. We do have young people carrying knives and have had a number of people arrested and convicted for the possession of an offensive weapon recently.

“It is unfortunately the culture of young people to carry weapons now.”

Karen Shaw, area housing manager for Colchester Borough Homes Limited, said: “In the opinion of Colchester Borough Homes, Greenstead does not have a drug or knife culture.”

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