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MUMS IN FEAR OF YOB THREAT.

Byline: MARY MURTAGH & JENNY WATSON

ECHO Reporters SINGLE mothers in a residential unit in Kirkby are in fear of their lives from a gang of 40 yobs.

Young thugs have threatened to fire bomb the unit for mothers and newborn babies in Southdene, vandalising the property and threatening locals every night.

Stacie McKie, who lives in the unit with three-month-old son Oliver,has called 999 seven times in four months after incidents at Roughdale Avenue.

The 20-year-old said: ``I am scared and I am worried about my baby's life.

``I feel like a prisoner in my own home. This is a cry for help. For the sake of my baby I want them to leave me alone.''

Pauline Riley, who has a one- year old son Callum, added: ``I am frightened for my son. This is supposed to be a safe place.''

Police are gathering evidence against the gang in a bid to bring about anti- social behaviour orders.

Jan Coulter, deputy director of health and social care at Knowsley council, said extra support had been brought in to protect the unit.

But Knowsley Labour MP George Howarth says magistrates must get tougher on Asbo offenders and lock up young thugs who persistently ignore the orders.

He has arranged for Britain's most senior law lord, the Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer, to visit the Kirkby community and hear of locals'misery.

Lord Falconer, who is responsible for magistrates' sentencing guidlelines, will visit inJune.

There are six anti-social behaviour orders in Knowsley but Mr Howarth says more are needed and that magistrates should use short custodial terms of two or three days to shock youths into changing their behaviour.

He has arranged another meeting tomorrow night at Brookfields School in Kirkby where Merseyside Crown Prosecution Service boss John Holt will be questioned by residents.

Mr Howarth said: ``I want to see magistrates asking about long-term patterns of behaviour behind offences when sentencing and to thinking of the effect on the community at large of repeated acts of low level crime.''

CAPTION(S):

MOTHERS'ANGUISH: Stacie McKie with baby Oliver, left,and Pauline Riley with her son Callum, who have faced being terrorised by groups of teenaged thugs in Kirkby Picture: COLIN LANE
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 11, 2004
Words:368
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