September 20 2014 Latest news:
by Imogen Blake
Thursday, October 3, 2013
A Highgate mother has warned of the dangers of putting personal details online after her £1million house was trashed during an out-of-control Facebook party.
Police were called in to disperse 600 revellers in Gladsmuir Road when a girl was taken to hospital with alcohol poisoning.
Catherine Seale was left with thousands of pounds worth of damage in the aftermath of the party, organised by her 17-year-old son Christopher while she was on holiday with her husband.
Laughing gas canisters were strewn across Mrs Seale’s ruined carpet and despite best efforts of her sister-in-law and son to clean up the mess, the property smelt strongly of vomit for days.
“The last thing I told him before I went away was ‘don’t have any parties’,” said the 54-year-old.
“The carpet was trashed and they damaged a sky light because somebody fell on it. They could have been killed.
“Even though it had been cleaned up when I got back from France, everything felt sticky and dirty and it stunk.
“There was vomit in the sitting room, cushions were completely ruined, and the sofa stank for days.” Christopher, a pupil at Mill Hill School, invited 60 friends. But his best friend, who put the event on Facebook, did not realise it could be seen publicly.
Police broke up the party at around 10.30pm but not before drunken youths had vomited on the streets and trashed the house.
When an ambulance arrived to take the girl to hospital, Christopher realised the party was out of control and sought help.
A concerned mother dropping off her son at the party phoned mother-of-two Mrs Seale, whose 15-year-old daughter Anna goes to Highgate School, to tell her 600 teens were wrecking her home.
The call left Mrs Seale in “complete shock”. “All parents should be warned that this could happen if you go away and leave your 17-year-old alone,” she said.
“I think if anyone is going to throw a party, they need to look at their privacy settings on Facebook. It’s absolutely essential that children are made aware of this.”
In June, a similar ‘Facebook party’ in Arkwright Road, Hampstead, was likened to a scene from the London riots.
No arrests were made following the Gladsmuir Road party and there were no complaints from neighbours, but Mrs Seale made sure her son apologised to neighbours. She said he will be donating his free time to charity.
Neighbour Ian Grant, 64, said the revellers were fairly well-behaved, though he did have to stop one from urinating in someone’s front garden.
Another, who wanted to remain anonymous, said her son had thrown a party while she was away 30 years ago.
“That was before the days of social media so I don’t think it is necessarily a Facebook problem,” she said.