Published: 00:01, 16 January 2015
More details have emerged of an alleged gang attack on squatters, said to have involved a 30-strong mob armed with bats, poles and screwdrivers.
The three had been staying in an empty building in New Road, Chatham, for four days when they claim they were targeted.
Following the alleged attack, which left one man in hospital, five men were arrested and have since been released on bail.
One witness said he was unable to see what happened inside but added: “Moments after I saw a struggle with the door and I saw two hands appear and then a white guy managed to prise the door open and managed to get out with another man and they started running down the road towards Luton.
“Up to 10 of the men were pursuing them and I saw a van, which I know to be linked to the building, follow them down the road.”
One of the squatters said he and two friends had been homeless for a few weeks and were looking for somewhere to stay when they discovered the building was open.
“Knowing about squatting we legally entered and set up a little area to keep warm,” he said. “At around 2pm on Saturday, up to 30 men broke down the door and attacked me and my two friends.”
He said they asked the men to let them gather their few possessions and their dog and leave but the men attacked his friend.
“This group went into pack mentality, brandishing metal poles, baseball bats, bits of timber and screw drivers" - squatter
He said: “This group went into pack mentality, brandishing metal poles, baseball bats, bits of timber and screw drivers.
“Seeing my friend get up we ran to the door trying to get away from the continuous blows to every part of the body, hoping our other friend had heard the noise and made his own escape.”
They managed to get out of the building before running down New Road. The squatter said his friend had been stabbed.
Police and paramedics were called to the disturbance at 2.20pm on Saturday, January 10.
Officers confirmed one man was taken to a London hospital with injuries thought to be serious. He remains in hospital in a stable condition. The air ambulance was called but he was taken by road with injuries to his head and torso.
The witness added: “Generally Chatham is a really safe area so to see something like that is shocking. It’s [the building] seriously derelict and they’re not maintaining it, they took out windows for no reason and boarded them up. It attracts people like squatters or worse, maybe drug dealers, or children could get in and get hurt.”
Another witness said police were at the scene until at least 9pm and she saw them leaving the building with black and white sacks.
She also said she saw four people at the property on Tuesday night removing mattresses and bedding.
Two 40-year-old men from London, a 39-year-old man, also from London, and a 29-year-old man from Chatham, were arrested on suspicion of assault. A fifth person – a 40-year-old man from London – was arrested on suspicion of affray.
All five men have been bailed until March 24.
Witnesses or anyone with information is asked to contact PC Robert Grieve by calling 01634 792350 and quoting case reference XY/000316/15.
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