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Camden New Journal - By SIMON WROE
Published: 27 March 2008

Shannon Francis with her daughter Paris and, left, the window from which the suspect fell
‘I freaked’ says mum who fought intruder

A SINGLE mother who fought off a burglar at her Highgate home has vowed to help the area’s youth from falling into a life of crime.
Shannon Francis, 36, was at her home in Langbourne Mansions on the Holly Lodge estate suffering from flu when the intruder struck. She said: “I heard a noise in the bathroom. When I went to investigate I found a guy sitting on the window sill. He’d climbed up the drainpipe.
“I freaked out and attacked him. I didn’t know if he had a knife or what. I was just thinking: ‘I’ve got to get him out of my house’.”
In the struggle, the intruder fell backwards out of the first-floor window, crashing to the concrete more than 20 feet below. After lying stunned for a few moments, the teenager picked himself up and ran off.
Fortunately, Ms Francis’s seven-year-old daughter Paris was at school at the time.
Ms Francis, who goes to the gym three times a week and does Taekwondo, a Korean martial art and combat sport, added: “My neighbours said they would have run away but until that situation happens you don’t know what you would do. I don’t think he’ll be coming back to this house again.”
The brazen lunchtime raid is the latest in a series of crimes at the estate, according to the music manager. She says her downstairs neighbours had to move because they kept being broken into. Another neighbour saw a local youth wearing her husband’s jacket following a burglary.
“The crime around here has got worse but people keep it quiet because it affects house prices,” said Ms Francis.
Holly Lodge residents have drawn up a petition calling for extra security officers and cameras in alleys but Ms Francis, who works with young offenders, believes the solution lies with the children.
She is looking for a centre where she can base her Streetkids project and hopes the many film and music professionals in Highgate will pass on their skills to local youths.
“I’ve been trying to set this up for some time and this burglary made me realise how quickly something’s got to happen,” she said. “The community needs to pull together to work with these young people.
“I know the struggles of a lot of these kids. You’ve got the rich living with the poor. We’ve got to give them something to focus on. They need positive role models in their life.”
Grace Livingstone, secretary of Holly Lodge Residents’ Association, said: “There’s nowhere for the older children to go. It’s a very beautiful estate so they’re not allowed to kick a ball about here. There should be more facilities for teenagers.”
A police spokeswoman confirmed officers had been called to Langbourne Mansions following a report of an attempted burglary.
She added: “Following inquiries, an 18-year-old male suspect was arrested in connection with the incident. No charges have been brought at this time.”

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