MAGISTRATES have closed a Poole flat after hearing neighbours have suffered "years" of anti-social behaviour.

Those living in the same Avenel Way block as 32-year-old Peter Hewitt complained of loud noises coming from the property. Residents were also shouted and sworn at and subjected to verbal abuse from visitors to the flat.

On January 25, Poole council successfully applied to the courts for a premises closure order, which authorises just Hewitt to enter the property for three months. The locks to the flat have also been changed.

Red notices taped to the front door of the block, and to Hewitt's front door, read: "The court has considered a closure order made on January 25 on the grounds that a person has engaged in anti-social behaviour on the premises and the use of the premises is associated with significant and persistent disorder or persistent serious nuisance to members of the public."

The notices name Hewitt and give his flat number, and end: "Warning: A person who remains on or enters the premises in contravention of this order is liable to a fine or imprisonment or both."

Hewitt's neighbours told the Daily Echo they had faced a "nightmare".

One said: "It's been going on for years and years.

"It's just been absolutely terrible - a nightmare."

However, another said Hewitt had "fallen in with the wrong crowd".

"The incident that led to him being taken to court happened when these other people broke into his flat," she said.

"He wasn't there when it happened."

One man told the Echo: "It's a big group of people and it's just really nasty, unpleasant anti-social behaviour.

"The people living in flats around his get it very badly."

Magistrates heard the privately-owned property was the "centre of anti-social behaviour", with large numbers of people frequently visiting.

Neighbours heard screaming, shouting and swearing coming from the flat.

Hewitt had been given verbal and written warnings about persistent misconduct. However, the situation didn't improve, and council officials made the decision to prosecute.

Councillor Karen Rampton, Poole council cabinet portfolio holder for housing and communities, said: "We are fortunate in Poole that we rarely see anti-social behaviour on this scale.

"However, the behaviour in this case impacted a significant number of people in the local community and action needed to be taken.

"We are pleased to have achieved this closure order with the support of other agencies including Dorset Police."

Cllr Rampton said the council takes reports of anti-social behaviour seriously and will work with partners to tackle issues behind it.

Anyone affected by similar issues can report it via the police's non-emergency number, 101, or Poole council on 01202 633438 during working hours.