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Mum speaks of terrifying Ally Pally encounter

PUBLISHED: 13:00 14 August 2011 | UPDATED: 16:55 14 August 2011

Natalie (6), Jonathan, Helen and Alexander (4) Gilbert.

Natalie (6), Jonathan, Helen and Alexander (4) Gilbert.

Archant

Helen Gerolaki said a man hurled abuse and threatened to punch her as her two young children watched in tears

»A mother has spoken of her distress after a man hurled abuse and threatened to punch her in Alexandra Palace’s playground as her two frightened young children looked on.

Helen Gerolaki was taking advantage of the sunny weather on Monday afternoon by taking her four-year-old son Alexander and six-year-old daughter Natalie to their local park.

But as she was pushing her daughter on the swing she noticed a man growling at a little girl who was standing beside her son on the climbing frame.

Frightened that the man could upset her children, she walked over to fetch her son and at this point the man started shouting abuse and threatened to punch her.

“He started throwing abuse at me and threatening to hit me for no reason. He was being really abusive and using extremely foul language,” she said.

“At one point he was walking towards me like he was going to hit me while I was with my two children who were in tears. It was really terrifying.”

Mrs Gerolaki, of Elgin Road, Muswell Hill, said the man was with a group of around 10 other adults, one of whom claimed to be his mother and who also threatened her.

She quickly dialled 999, but claims the police operator was rude, refused to send an emergency car and even threatened to hang up on her. “I had people shouting at me and two distressed children, and the police just threatened to put the phone down on me,” she said.

After her ordeal, the psychotherapist spoke to other parents at Rhodes Avenue, her children’s school, who told her they avoid the park because it has a reputation for attracting abusive adults.

“It is a no go zone,” she said. “We purposely moved to Muswell Hill because we thought it was a good place to raise a family and now this has happened. It is just appalling.”

Mrs Gerolaki says she and her children have been left severely shaken up by the ordeal, and has vowed to never go back. She has called on Alexandra Palace to tighten security at the park.

“It was really upsetting. My son has asked me if that nasty man was going to jail. I don’t want to put my children through that,” she said.

“The playground is the nearest to me, but there is no way I am going to go there again.”

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