Police hunt for ‘reckless’ host of church rave in Essex 


Police are trying to identify a ‘reckless’ rave host whose unlicensed New Year’s Eve  party saw hundreds of revellers trash a 500-year-old church in Essex. 

Members of the conservation group that supports All Saints Church in East Horndon – a Grade II-listed building – said they are ‘devastated’ by the damage caused and estimate repairs could cost more than £1,000. 

Organisers of the event set up a bar and DJ decks inside the church and hired Portaloos for partygoers.

Officers had objects thrown at them and were threatened as they dealt with the incident at the disused church – which led to three people being arrested on suspicion of drugs and public order offences. 

It came as police in Essex alone issued £18,000 worth of fines over New Year celebrations, breaking up events that included a house party with 100 people attending and a fire dancer performing for crowds.  

The aftermath of the illegal Essex rave

Police are trying to identify a ‘reckless’ rave host whose unlicensed New Year’s Eve party saw hundreds of revellers trash a 500-year-old church in Essex (the aftermath pictured)

Members of the conservation group that supports All Saints Church in East Horndon - a Grade II-listed building - said they are 'devastated' by the damage caused (rubbish pictured in the church) and estimate repairs could cost more than £1,000

Members of the conservation group that supports All Saints Church in East Horndon – a Grade II-listed building – said they are ‘devastated’ by the damage caused (rubbish pictured in the church) and estimate repairs could cost more than £1,000

Another new year celebration which had to be shut down saw police break up a crowd that had gathered at an industrial building in Wates Way, Brentwood. 

Two people were arrested on suspicion of drink-driving and for failing to provide details. 

Officers are trying to track down the organisers of both events, and chief inspector Richard Melton said they would receive the maximum penalty for these ‘blatant breaches’ of coronavirus regulations.

Penalty notices were issued to 27 people who attended. Music equipment was seized from all three sites where a total of 37 fixed penalty notices were handed out. 

Chief inspector Melton said: ‘It is the reckless minority of people who organise and attend unauthorised events of this kind that risk spreading Covid-19 and jeopardising the efforts of the majority of people who are doing the right thing. 

Organisers of the event set up a bar and DJ decks inside the church (pictured) and hired Portaloos for partygoers

Organisers of the event set up a bar and DJ decks inside the church (pictured) and hired Portaloos for partygoers

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet criticised those who 'decided to blatantly flout the coronavirus rules and regulations and, ultimately, they decided that partying was more important than protecting other people,' after police in Essex broke up an illegal gathering at an abandoned church in Thorndon Park (pictured)

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet criticised those who ‘decided to blatantly flout the coronavirus rules and regulations and, ultimately, they decided that partying was more important than protecting other people,’ after police in Essex broke up an illegal gathering at an abandoned church in Thorndon Park (pictured)

‘Tragically there are people dying or becoming seriously ill because of this awful virus and we all have a responsibility for doing all we can to protect each other.’

Arrests made at the church included a 27-year-old man from Harlow, on suspicion of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs and a public order offence. 

He has been released under investigation while inquiries continue and was given a fixed penalty notice for breaching coronavirus regulations. 

A 22-year-old man from Harlow was released without charge for an alleged public order offence and given a conditional caution for possession of cannabis. 

He will be given a fixed penalty notice for breaching coronavirus regulations. A 35-year-old man from Southwark, who was arrested on suspicion of possession of drugs, was given a community resolution for possession of cannabis.

Police in Essex broke up house parties and raves, including one in an abandoned warehouse in Brentwood on Thursday night

Police in Essex broke up house parties and raves, including one in an abandoned warehouse in Brentwood on Thursday night

Astrid Gillespie, a volunteer for the Friends of All Saints, said she was ‘just trying to get her head round the news’, having found out via a Facebook post on New Year’s Day.

‘I went up there and the police were still there packing up the equipment that they seized,’ she told the PA news agency.

‘There were hundreds of people there, it sounded like it was a ticketed event. It was a professional set-up, they’d hired Portaloos – they’re still there.

‘They had a bar area where you had to exchange tokens, so they must have been selling drinks tokens.

‘There was loads of evidence of drugs and they’ve done damage to the church, obviously it’s a mess and needs to be completely cleaned out.

‘The ground has been all churned up because they must have had vans dropping off all the equipment.’

A fire dancer was filmed performing at a house party in Essex on New Year's Eve

The event's organiser has been fined £10,000 by Essex Police

A woman has been fined £10,000 for organising a house party – complete with a fire dancer as an entertainer – at her home in Sewardstonebury, Essex, on New Year’s Eve

Ms Gillespie, 48, said a small window had been smashed to put in an extractor fan unit and the sound equipment had been wired into the church’s fuse box.

She added that because of the building’s age and heritage status, the damage was ‘not going to be cheap’ to fix, and that the locks would have to be replaced.

‘The vicar is going to organise a preliminary clean-up but it’s a huge task and we’re estimating £1,000 but it could well be more,’ she said.

‘I love the place, it’s such a beautiful church, and to find out it’s been damaged is devastating, I’m just trying to get my head around it.

‘You wake up in the new year and think ‘new year, new me’ and then you’ve got to deal with all this.’ 

A top police officer has slammed New Year’s Eve revellers who ignored Covid lockdown rules and ‘decided partying was more important than protecting other people’.   

Despite strict orders to stay at home, crowds gathered along London's Southbank to watch the fireworks display. While others attended a nearby protest against lockdown rules

Despite strict orders to stay at home, crowds gathered along London’s Southbank to watch the fireworks display. While others attended a nearby protest against lockdown rules

Met Police officers on horseback were dispatched on the banks of the River Thames in order to disperse crowds from London

Met Police officers on horseback were dispatched on the banks of the River Thames in order to disperse crowds from London

A woman who organised an event in Sewardstonebury involving a fire dancer and an entertainer was fined £10,000. 

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet criticised those who ‘decided to blatantly flout the coronavirus rules and regulations and, ultimately, they decided that partying was more important than protecting other people’.

He added: ‘We’ve seized their equipment, arrested five people, and issued a large number of fines to those who think this behaviour is acceptable.

‘We need you to keep yourselves, other people, and the NHS, safe. Thank you again to everyone who spent their New Year’s Eve in a responsible, legal, way. ‘Stay safe, Essex.’

Met Police issued 217 people with fixed penalty fines and five people could receive £10,000 fines for organising large gatherings across London.

Two men were stabbed and a woman hit around the head with a bottle as violence broke out when up to 70 people squared up to one another in Edgware Road, London, just minutes after midnight. 

There were similar raves across the country, as Greater Manchester Police issued 105 fines, compared to 66 in Brighton and Hove.  

Despite police attempts to disperse crowds, revellers were seen laughing and joking as they ushered in the New Year

Despite police attempts to disperse crowds, revellers were seen laughing and joking as they ushered in the New Year

Police in Newham, East London, were called out to break-up a rave at an abandoned warehouse in London's Royal Docks on New Year's Eve. Empty bottles and sound systems were left at the scene after police arrived

Police in Newham, East London, were called out to break-up a rave at an abandoned warehouse in London’s Royal Docks on New Year’s Eve. Empty bottles and sound systems were left at the scene after police arrived

People were seen drinking and dancing together at a house party in Essex

Around 100 people were at the party, near Chingford, last night

Revellers could be seen dancing at a house party in Sewardstonebury, Essex, yesterday, with more than 100 people in attendance before police were called 

Balloons - potentially used for inhaling nitrous oxide - littered the floor of the abandoned warehouse in East London today

Balloons – potentially used for inhaling nitrous oxide – littered the floor of the abandoned warehouse in East London today

In the aftermath of the disturbances on Edgware Road, a photographer working for MailOnline was knocked unconscious while taking pictures near police officers yards from the homes of the rich and famous including Tony Blair and Claudia Winkleman.

As he recovered, he told MailOnline: ‘We got there and there were lots of armed police. Big armed police cars were zooming past us – we counted 11. There must be 100-and-something police there at least, a lot of them heavily armed.’

He said as he worked, a man approached him and punched him.

‘As I hit the floor, six or seven officers rushed to me and then apparently six or seven more caught the guy who did it,’ he said. ‘He was arrested on the scene.’

The experienced photojournalist said he counted around 60 or 70 suspected gang members present on the street after the initial stabbings had taken place.

Police said they were called by colleagues in the London Fire Brigade to reports of a stabbing on Edgware Road.

A spokesman said: ‘Officers attended the scene, with the London Ambulance Service and [the air ambulance]. Two males were identified with stab injuries. Both men were taken to hospital.

‘A woman was also located at the scene suffering with a head injury, she has been taken to hospital.’ He added: ‘One woman has been arrested for GBH and taken to a police station.’

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