A RETIRED disabled couple are living “like prisoners” in their home after being repeatedly targeted by a gang of teenagers over two years.
Andrew and Sarah McKirdy claim their lives are being made “a misery” by youths who pelt their home with stones, eggs and plastic bottles, and hurl vile abuse at them.
The pair, who live in Hyvot Mill Drive, Gilmerton have been attacked so many times they have forgotten how many and have almost given up reporting incidents to the police.
The latest attack against the couple occurred just after 8pm last night, when Sarah, who has chronic lung disease and was alone in the house at the time, was terrorised by a group of five or six young teenagers.
The youngsters, who Sarah believes are pupils at a local school, entered her garden and banged on the doors and windows of the home, while throwing snowballs, challenging her to come outside and calling her foul names.
As last night’s attack began, Mrs McKirdy was discussing a previous encounter over the phone with the Evening News.
On Saturday night, she and husband Andrew – who has type two diabetes and had a quadruple bypass in 2001 following a heart attack – were pelted with icy snowballs as they attempted to confront the gang.
Mrs McKirdy, 62, said: “It’s keeping us in absolute misery. We’ve lived in this area for 27 years and moved here about five years ago. We had no problems until about two years ago. Our home used to be somewhere where the door was always open and anyone could just drop in at any time.
“Now I’ve had to have keys cut for all my family and close friends because I don’t want to risk leaving my front door unlocked. We used to go out to the social club and the bowling club, but we only go out during the day now. The stress has even started affecting our dog, Bella who barks at everything and is nervous.
Mr McKirdy, 64, said: “Saturday night was the first time they came right into the garden and right up to the windows. I opened the front door to try and get pictures of them, but I find it difficult to hold my hands steady because of my heart, and they immediately started throwing things at me.
“When Sarah came to the door and asked them why they were doing this to us, she got the same. I also collapsed in the street once when I tried to run after them. I think that’s why they keep coming back to us – because they know that we have health issues and can’t just stop them or chase after them.
Mrs McKirdy, who has to use an inhaler to aid her breathing, said: “When the police came round on Saturday night they told us that we shouldn’t have tried to take a picture of them, that it wasn’t worth it. They also told us to keep our blinds shut all the way down day and night, and remove some dolls I have in my upstairs window. They said they were enticing the boys.
“What really gets me is how we’re being treated like we somehow brought this on ourselves and it’s us that have to change our behaviour.”
A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said: “We are aware of the concerns that have been raised, and further work will be undertaken in order to address these concerns. We work closely with our partners in the local community to address issues around antisocial behaviour, and we will take robust action against anyone identified as being responsible.”
The family has now won support from Kenny MacAskill, who has called for police to act.
The Justice Secretary and MSP for Edinburgh Eastern said: “I am saddened to hear of the harassment this couple have had to endure. Nobody should feel unsafe in their own home.”
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‘Harassment like this is not uncommon’
RICHARD Hamer, director of external affairs at Capability Scotland, said: “Most Edinburgh residents
will be horrified to hear of people with long-term illnesses and disabilities being targeted in such
“Sadly, calls to Capability Scotland’s free and confidential advice line show that such harassment is not uncommon.
“Since 2009, the Scottish courts have had far greater powers to deal with those who target disabled people. We can only hope the new unified police force take a stronger stance on such crimes.”
A 2012 report into hate crime in Scotland by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service found that in 2011-12, 68 charges were reported with an aggravation of prejudice relating to disability, that is 20 more than were reported in 2010-11, the first full year of implementation of
MOTHER DRIVEN TO SUICIDE
ONE of the most notorious cases of hate crime against the disabled was that of the torment suffered by Fiona Pilkington and her family.
The Pilkingtons, from Leicestershire, put up with years of abuse from a gang of youths, including having their home pelted with objects and their garden ransacked.
Despite reports to the police, the abuse did not stop. In 2007, Fiona killed herself – and daughter Francecca, who was 18 but had a mental age of four – by setting the family car alight while they were both inside.
A 2009 inquest ruled that police failure to respond to pleas for
help contributed to
the womens’ deaths.