A local newspaper reporter has told of how he was punched and kicked in the face when he got caught up in the riots in Croydon.
Gareth, who spent a ten hours in the thick of the riots, said a group of youths who had looted a shop became suspicous of his colleague and threw bottles at his head:.
Said Gareth: “My mistake was to react to what had happened. I knew that if they surrounded him I would have to help but a number of older looters noticed my reaction, advancing at me shouting “Who the **** are you?”
“Before I could respond I had been backed into a corner and punched in the face. I attempted to run but one of the masked attackers grabbed my hood and dragged my head back and then, thud I had been kicked in the jaw.
“With my nose bleeding the youths searched through my pockets, taking my wallet and phone and repeating their demand to know who I was.”
It was at this point that they took his camera. Added Gareth: “At this point I can’t remember exactly what I said, other than I lies for my life. Whatever it was I manged to convince them to return my phone. He even tried to get my camera back before telling me to ‘run before you get murdered.’
Gareth then went home, cleaned himself up and went back into Croydon were the situation had worsened with youths as young as ten pelting police with bottles and bricks. He then witnessed one of the darkest moments in the town’s history when landmark furniture shop House of Reeves furniture was set alight, spreading to neighbouring flats where families were still inside.
Said Gareth: “Reporting the Croydon riots was unlike anything I have ever experienced. It was both terrifying and surreal in equal measure, and I have no problem admitting that, on more than one occasion, I had tears streaming down my face.”
He has written about his experience in today’s edition of the paper which features a 20-page souvenir edition on the riots, with a different wrap covering the front and back pages of each of the paper’s four editions.
Inside are eye-witness accounts from Gareth, Ross Lidbetter and Joanna Till, and photographs taken by Grant Melton and David Berman. The news teams also included Nikki Jarvis, Ian Austen, Rachel Millard and Chris Ballinger.
Advertiser editor Glenn Ebrey said: “I cannot emphasise how committed, hard-working and, in Monday night’s case, brave our reporting team have been over the past few days. They have been a credit to their profession.
“I hope we have struck the right tone with our coverage. People in Croydon are very angry and want to see some justice, but we also wanted to reflect some of the positive stories and messages of defiance which have risen from the ashes of this awful tragedy.”
The Advertiser’s website – www.thisiscroydontoday.co.uk – broke all the news as it happened throughout the week, with updates until 3am on Tuesday resulting in 40,000 page hits in a single morning.
In Gloucester, The Gloucester Citizen received a record 1.1 million page views and 129,000 unique visitors in a 20-hour period on Wednesday.