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Sittingbourne Christmas Lights Association volunteer Danielle Smith threatened with rape by youth in Bayford Road, Sittingbourne

By Hayley Robinson

Sittingbourne Christmas Lights Committee was forced to call the police after two collectors were verbally and physically abused by three yobs.

Danielle Smith was subjected to explicit threats, including rape, while Dave Banham was punched in the arm.

It happened during Santa’s sleigh round while the team of 10, including four children over the age of 10, were in Bayford Road, Sittingbourne, at about 7.40pm last night.

Danielle Smith was subjected to explicit threats, including rape, by one youth

As the trio of boys, who were all aged between 15 and 16 and dressed in black with their hoods up, left the area it’s understood they hit a young boy as he walked along Shortlands Road.

Officers were sent to the scene to speak to the victims after they dialed 999.

Mrs Smith, of Shortlands Road, said: “As we were going back down, the road three youths turned up and started making a nuisance of themselves.

“They were very close to the back of the sleigh and I was worried they were going to jump on it so I went and walked at the back too. One of them started nudging me and making sexual comments, nasty stuff, he was really unsavoury.

Santa with Megan Anca, 11, and Aiah Smith, 10, on the sleigh in Murston

“I initially tried to make light of it by saying he was on Santa’s naughty list and to go away but he carried on.

“I was annoyed more than anything. I wasn’t frightened. They were trying to intimidate us. Although I didn’t see any attempts to try and take it, they seemed to be eyeing up the buckets.

“We were all a bit shook up. Dave’s arm was hurt, although he’s OK.

“It leaves a nasty taste in your mouth. We couldn’t get to Oak Road and Tonge Road either.

"We can only collect up until 9pm and we were delayed because of waiting for the police and talking to them about it which is sad for the children up there as they were expecting us.”

Santa's sleigh rounds raise money for the Sittingbourne Christmas Lights Association

Despite coming under attack, it hasn’t stopped the mum-of-two from heading out again this evening.

She added: “If you saw the children’s faces and how overwhelmed they are to have Santa at their house... well. We’re not going to let three little thugs put us off doing the round this year or next. They won’t win.”

In the end a total of £211 was raised on the night.

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