Emily Sutherland, 15, at her Lennox Head home yesterday. Emily and her family have received hate mail since her birthday party
Emily Sutherland, 15, at her Lennox Head home yesterday. Emily and her family have received hate mail since her birthday party

How my party was turned into a teen riot

By Bree Price

Emily Sutherland watched in horror as her 15th birthday party was gatecrashed by a mob of teenagers who later ran riot through Lennox Head.

Emily and mum, Trisha, had invited Emily's 20 closest friends to their Sunrise Crescent unit on Tuesday night to dance and watch the final episode of popular teen television series, The OC.

But, from about 8.30pm, more than 50 uninvited teenagers and adults arrived, smashing bottles and wreaking havoc.

A riot ensued after police shut the party down. Police estimated up to 150 children and adults confronted them, throwing bottles and hurling abuse.

A number of partygoers also committed acts of vandalism in the main street.

Now Emily and her mum are being targeted by anonymous hate mail, which has left the 15-yearold in tears.

The letter branded them 'either stupid or the most inconsiderate person on earth' for holding the party.

"I was really upset. I originally scrunched the letter up and hid it in my drawer because I knew mum would get upset," Emily said.

Emily's mum said the party was deliberately held on her daughter's birthday rather than the weekend to stop gatecrashers.

However, word of the party spread to teenagers from Ballina and Byron Bay through Internet chat rooms and mobile phone text messages.

Emily said people were telling their friends it was an open party with free alcohol.

Ms Sutherland said she never dreamed her daughter's small party would spin out of control.

She said it was the first party she had let Emily hold because she was so nervous about gatecrashers.

"People just walked in the door. I didn't know what to do," Emily said.

"A lot of them weren't even in my age group. There were a lot of men, aged between 20 and 30.

"One guy walked up to the door and my friend told him to go away, it was a 15th birthday party, and he said he'd left his cigarettes inside and just walked in."

Emily and her mum, together with the help of police, shut the party down early about 9.30pm.

The crowd then moved to the main street, where shop windows were smashed and police were pelted with bottles and cans and verbally abused.

Five car-loads of police officers were needed to stop the teen riot.

Emily said she feared the neighbourhood her family had only lived in for seven months would now treat them differently.

"I'm worried about neighbours disrespecting us. I don't want to walk around with them looking down on us," she said.



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