A FLAT which became a centre of drug dealing has been closed by court order and its "vulnerable" occupant ejected.

Poole Magistrates Court heard the flat at 98 Turbary Park Avenue had become a nightmare for neighbours over the past year, with drug dealers and users coming and going often into the night, as well as some criminal damage and reports of parcels going missing.

On one occasion an ambulance was called as several people at the address had suffered a bad reaction to an illegal drug.

PC Dan Smith of the West Howe neighbourhood policing team told the court he had originally be tasked with making unannounced visits to the flat, several times a week, to check whether its tenant, 56-year-old Sarah Blakeney-Edwards, was content with the presence of any visitors.

She was suspected to be a victim of 'cuckooing', where drug dealers take advantage of 'vulnerable' people in order to use their property.

"In relation to the complaints, there was general anti-social behaviour, in particular residents coming and going, nuisance calls, misuse of the buzzer system," said PC Smith.

"An individual was identified as potentially vulnerable with people potentially taking advantage of the property.

"When someone comes to our notice in relation to that we carry out unannounced welfare checks two or three times a week."

PC Smith said Ms Blakeney-Edwards had told police she was "happy" with people in her flat a mixture of known drug users and "those linked by intelligence to the supply of Class A drugs", except on one occasion where she rang police herself to request visitors were removed. Consequently the welfare visits were stopped.

However, he said "in my opinion she was not properly able to control them".

Ms Blakeney-Edwards, who has lived at the property since 2003, attended court in person to challenge the order. She admitted there had been anti-social behaviour and described herself as a "vulnerable" victim of cuckooing, but insisted that the problems had been over for two months and she was now able to control access to her home.

She told the court that after the death of her partner of 18 years Paula Crossingham from cancer in September, she was deprived of her carer's allowance and allowed people into her home as a way to make ends meet. She also took heroin "for a short time".

Asked whether she realised they were using the flat for drug dealing she said: "Not straight away. They came in for a cup of tea, they were homeless.

"In February I became invisible, no one noticed me. People were being let in and out of my flat."

When challenged that the anti-social behaviour had continued in the past two months she said the lack of CCTV at the block made it difficult for her to prove her claims.

"I haven't been given a chance to prove myself, I just live there by myself, I can do it," she said.

"I'm 56 and I don't want to be on the streets, it's a death sentence, I'm too old."

The court ordered the flat be closed off for three months. The district judge also stated that Ms Blakeney-Edwards was "vulnerable" with "significant issues" and Bournemouth council should "urgently" look into her case.