Eden mansion ransacked by vandals encouraged by on-line video
AN Eden mansion, once used as a multi-million pound cannabis factory by a criminal gang, has been trashed by vandals after intruders posted a video of an illegal tour of the property on the Internet.
Christine Holmes, the owner of the Grade II listed Flass mansion at Maulds Meaburn, says she has now been forced out of her home by numerous trespassers who have seen the footage.
The 68-year-old songwriter claims that over the past two weeks her home has been broken into more than 12 times. Every single part of the 52-room mansion has been ransacked and trashed.
Graffiti has been daubed over the walls, and beer cans and broken bottles are strewn across the floors along with discarded sleeping bags, which she believes are left behind by trespassers squatting at the property.
She is so terrified of people breaking into her home on a nightly basis that she has been forced out and is staying nearby with friends while desperately trying to secure the mansion and stop the intruders.
The problem started when a group of men, calling themselves Urban Explorers, posted on-line two weeks ago. They claim Flass is an abandoned “drug lords’ mansion” and filmed themselves taking a night-time tour of the property.
Since being posted the video has been viewed more than 10 million times, spawning a number of copycat “explorers” who have turned Christine’s home into what she describes as a “war zone”.
“I was absolutely horrified when I saw it on-line. I couldn’t believe how anyone could come into my home and believe it was an abandoned building,” she said.
“I think since then people have been staying in the building and have even been there hiding while I’ve been there. I’m petrified. These are evil people who are breaking into my home. I think it’s becoming a game to them. They are breaking in every day.”
Christine, a songwriter whose hits include Sir Cliff Richard’s Devil Woman, bought Flass in 2000 with her ex-husband. The couple lived at the mansion for a number of years and ran it as a successful performing arts school until she became ill with cancer.
The couple later split and Christine fled to France. Her ex-husband, Paul Davies, took control of the mansion but was jailed in 2015 after police raided the house and found it had been turned into a multi-million cannabis factory.
He was jailed for 31⁄2 years after the courts heard that more than 2,000 cannabis plants had been cultivated, with a street value of up to £5.2 million, over two years.
Following the court case Christine took back control of Flass and made it her home again, dividing her time between France and Maulds Meaburn.
The drugs operation had left the mansion badly damaged with holes smashed into walls and through ceilings to equip the cannabis production, and so Christine ploughed £200,000 into the home to repair the damage.
However, the divorce settlement between the couple meant the plan was always to sell Flass and so up until the past two weeks she had been living there but boxing up a lot of the contents.
The Urban Explorers video shows many of the boxes and there are signs of the property being lived in, including a 2017 calendar hanging in the kitchen.
However, following the release of the video vandals have completely wrecked the mansion. All of Christine’s possessions have been torn out of boxes and thrown across rooms.
There is a large amount of damage to the property and also to her belongings, including many collectors’ items, priceless antiques, musical instruments and personal items including letters penned by her late parents.
Christine has reported the problem to Cumbria Constabulary but says the police have “failed” her and have put the onus on her to employ a legal team and take those posting the on-line video through the civil courts. In an attempt to fight back against the catalogue of break-ins and damage at her property, Christine this week commissioned her own video to be made showing Flass through her eyes.
She hopes to dispel the Urban Explorers claims that the mansion is abandoned and also show the huge amount of vandalism that has been caused following their original shoot.
Security is also being increased at Flass, with security guards and dogs patrolling the grounds.
A Cumbria Constabulary spokesman said: “Police are investigating a number of incidents at Flass at Maulds Meaburn.
“The incidents originate from a group of people called Urban Explorers who look to film in derelict premises and upload to YouTube.
“We have made contact with this group and explained that the property is not abandoned and have also placed messages in the comments sections for subsequent videos to ensure that any other groups who are considering doing something similar are aware that they would be at risk of committing criminal offences.
“We have also been working with the home owner and supplied them with extensive crime prevention advice in relation to securing their property. Patrols have also been deployed to the area in order to deter any further incidents occurring.
“In relation to the investigation, inquiries are ongoing to identify offences committed and any subsequent offenders.”