Islington Council traps residents in Holloway graveyard

�Children and elderly people were trapped in a graveyard at night after it was padlocked from the outside.

About 15 people were shut in the grounds of St Mary Magdalene church last Tuesday by Islington Council officers who did not check before locking up.

Some were so desperate to escape they risked injury by vaulting the spiked fence - and one man fell and hurt himself in the process.

James Carr, 32, of Melgund Road, Highbury, who often uses the church, in Holloway Road, Holloway, as a cut-through to Liverpool Road, blasted the council for putting people’s safety at risk.

He said: “My girlfriend and I walked in the Holloway Road entrance at about 7pm, but when we got to the other side all the gates were locked. We returned to the entrance, but that had been locked too by the time we got there.

“What if there was a fire? Or if someone was being attacked? There was no escape! It was sheer negligence and stupidity by the council and it put our safety at risk.”

Mr Carr, who has lodged a complaint with the council, said about 15 people were stranded inside, including very young teenagers and an elderly couple. They searched the park but all five gates had been locked.

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After about 15 minutes, he decided to scale the fence – along with his girlfriend and two others – but fell off, ripping his jeans and injuring his shoulder.

“Another guy who was about to climb over with us decided he was too scared,” he said. “When we left, there were still people locked in the park shouting to be let out. I don’t know how they escaped.”

The park had shut ahead of Arsenal’s Champions League tie with Marseille at the Emirates Stadium last Tuesday, November 1.

Mr Carr added: “There were security guards outside to control the flow of Arsenal fans, but they just said they didn’t have the key and would not help.”

James Gilchrist, Islington Council’s head of greenspace and leisure, said: “We are very sorry to hear about this incident - it is unacceptable. Our park staff should always check before locking up and we are looking into why they did not in this case, so we can make sure it doesn’t happen again. I can reassure any concerned residents that this is a rare occurrence.”