Darren Bell, owner of Play Quest, in his kitchen where a violent intruder caused havoc.
Darren Bell, owner of Play Quest, in his kitchen where a violent intruder caused havoc. Melissa Gulbin

‘Maniacs’ are making people leave Lismore

LISMORE Indoor playground Play Quest owner Darren Bell is thinking of leaving town after a "drug affected" male broke into and vandalised his business, before charging at his mate with a steel stool above his head.

After returning to his business at 6.30pm last night, Mr Bell found the door open and the kitchen in complete disarray.

"The floor was covered in items that had been torn from shelves. Cupboards had been ripped apart. The key had been taken from the till and left untouched. Lollies had been taken and cut into pieces with a knife that was left on a shelf." he said.

"An office stamp had been used to stamp 'paid' all over a cupboard shelf. Food had been removed from the fridge and placed in a line on the bench."

While cleaning up Mr Bell heard a noise.

"A clearly drug affected male soon emerged from the darkness," he said.

Mr Bell then called the police while trying to stop the man leaving, but by the time he made it halfway through giving details to police, Mr Bell decided it was safer to let him go.

Then the man returned, angry and professing his innocence.

"A business owner associate then innocently arrived and knew immediately that he'd walked into a very volatile situation," Mr Bell said.

"He stayed on the periphery stalking like a lion. Ready to pounce. But the other guy pounced first.

"We both herded him down the alley and thought we were safe. Upon reaching a trolley he snapped into a psychotic rage. Grabbing a steel stool from high above the pile, he turned and with it raised above his head charged my friend.

"But he picked the wrong guy. My friend soon had him pinned on the ground. And all he could do was say that he'd done nothing wrong. That he has rights."

Police arrested the man and assessed and photographed the extensive and utterly senseless damage.

Mr Bell also discovered fan motors torn from children's slides and at the rear of a cubby hole a bunch of wiring. He'd ripped this from Mr Bell's motorbike that was parked in the foyer.


'It's the elephant in the room'

"In the past five years this problem has got worse. My business associates all say the same thing," Mr Bell said.

"The CBD is now a place that people don't feel safe and don't want to visit. Last night was an isolated incident in my world. But what about our police and nursing staff that have to deal with these people everyday?

"This sort of thing ... it's the elephant in the room in this town and business owners feel like second class citizens.

"Last night I got to see the depths of this problem.

"Good people are going to leave this place. I loved Lismore when I first arrived five years ago. But drug addicts and people who have no interests in integrating into society, I don't want to be around that."

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