This is the couple left ‘heartbroken’ after their £1.2 million grade II home was ransacked by vandals as young as 11 who spent a month smashing antiques, paintings and ornate stained-glass windows while they were away, MailOnline can reveal.
During the spree of destruction, Joanna and Matt Pittard’s six bedroom house 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’.
A relative of Mr Pittard today told MailOnline: ‘They are absolutely devastated at what’s happened to their beautiful home.’
Joanna and Matt Pittard’s six-bedroom house on the Isle of Wight was left in tatters after the group of ‘evil’ children, between the ages of 11 and 15, broke in and vandalised it
Smashed, missing or boarded up windows could be seen at the six-bedroom property
Mrs Pittard’s wedding dress (pictured) was even destroyed in the raid which knocked thousands of pounds off the value of their time
The Pittards, who live on a two-acre a £1.5million farmhouse on the outskirts of Newbury, Berkshire, close to a small business park they own and run, had planned to move to their island holiday property with their two daughters.
But their dream has been left in tatters after the gang, which included two girls, left ‘hardly anything untouched’ by damaging lights, bathroom taps, squirting ketchup, bleach and paint throughout the property and smashing 22 windows.
The shocking extent of the damage left the house ‘practically uninhabitable’ as the youngsters, the oldest of whom was 15, wreaked havoc between May and June last year.
Seven perpetrators, who are now all aged between 13 and 16 and cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted criminal damage to property at Isle of Wight magistrates’ court, where they were each fined £1,500.
Ann Smout, for the prosecution, said the offences took place at the ‘substantial’ building in Shanklin.
‘Joanna and Matt Pittard were at that address over Easter in April 2022,’ Smout said.
‘They had a week there and left the property clean and tidy and in very, very good order.’ The couple were then away from the house for about a month, the court was told.
Now, 16 months of from the vandalism which has reduced the value of the property by an estimated £300,000 and with windows boarded up and scaffolding covering the exterior, neighbours say they still can’t comprehend the sheer amount of damage that was caused.
One neighbour, who witnessed the vandalism, told MailOnline how they phoned police when they saw that the gang had got into the house.
They said: ‘We’re the ones that actually notified the police but we heard nothing from them.
Some of the windows at the couple’s home had been smashed by the group of children
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
‘We were in the garden and we heard breaking glass so being a very close neighbourhood, my husband went across with another neighbour and he could see things being thrown through closed windows.
‘He shouted up ‘We have called the police whoever you are’ and I phoned the police and described everything that happened.
‘My husband saw the young people leave and he said they had a smug look on their faces.’ Her husband added:
‘The one thing that did surprise me was that when I went round there and shouted to them they walked out and walked right past me and just smiled as if to say ‘What are you going to do about it?’
‘When we did describe them to the policeman on the phone, he said ‘I know who you are talking about’,’ she said.
The neighbour said that the gang was only caught when they returned to the property several days later – and the police were there to arrest them.’
They added: ‘It’s terrible for the Pittards. They have lost £300,000 and the perpetrators have only been fined £1,500.’
Among the damage to the property, was a smashed ornate stained glass window along with other windows, a double glazed conservatory door and numerous other handmade hardwood doors – some of which were over 100 years old.
The garage had been broken into and chainsaws, axes and sledgehammers could be found in ‘every bedroom of the property’.
Inside the house there was ‘significant damage’, which included a grandfather clock being pushed over and ‘completely smashed’ as well as a 5ft-wide wrought-iron chandelier.
Paintings hung on the wall had also been broken up and left on the floor, while messages were carved into mahogany window sills and the bannister had been destroyed.
Mrs Pittard’s beloved wedding dress was destroyed in the raid which left ‘hardly anything untouched’
Windows appear to have been boarded up at the couple’s six-bedroom Isle of Wight home
Bathroom taps were pulled off and water was gushing everywhere – meaning Mr Pittard had to turn off the water supply as soon as they arrived to try and limit the damage.
The couple found glass scattered ‘everywhere’, graffiti scrawled on walls and ‘hardly anything untouched’.
‘Violated’ Mrs Pittard was horrified to find her wedding dress ‘destroyed’ after being covered in oil, nail vanish and footprints.
In a statement read to the court, she said that the damage was heartbreaking and recounted the ‘horrendous’ experience of filling skips with their own belongings. ‘They maliciously chopped down our palm tree and tried to chop down our cherry tree.
It looks like a war zone,’ she said. ‘From being a beautiful, historic building, it is a derelict shell of itself.’
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
In a more recent statement, she said the now boarded-up house was still ‘in chaos’ and felt she would ‘never fully recover from the experience’.
In interviews with police, the youngsters admitted to various degrees of involvement in their ‘impulsive’ damage, with one revealing they had created a ‘slip and slide’ in the bathroom.
In mitigation, the court was told that the teenagers had expressed their ‘regret and remorse’ for what happened and had all shown ‘improvements’ in their behaviour and attitude since.
Keith Jones, chairman of the magistrates, said he was lost for words at their ‘disgraceful’ behaviour.
Addressing six of the teenagers, after the case of one was adjourned, he said: ‘We will never know who did what or exactly what happened.
A court heard chainsaws, axes and sledgehammers were pinched from the garage and used in ‘every bedroom of the property’
Windows appear to have been boarded up, smashed or missing at the couple’s six-bedroom home
You are charged as joint enterprise so you are equally responsible. It is a poor reflection on the six of you.’
The teenagers were handed a 12-month referral order and ordered to pay the couple compensation for the ‘very personal impact on the family involved’.
‘This is imposed on your parents, but you owe that figure to your parents,’ he added.
‘We certainly don’t want to see any of you back here again.’