A FLAT where vulnerable tenants have been cuckooed by drug dealers has been shut down after neighbours compared the block to a war-torn city.

The occupiers of 17 Bakery Place in Magdalen Street, Colchester, supported the application by Colchester Council to stop visitors entering the property because they had been exploited.

The Swan Housing Association property had been overtaken by drug dealers which had caused huge problems for neighbours.

Cuckooing is a term where drug dealers move into the homes of vulnerable people - some of whom are often drug users themselves - and use it as a base for their operation.

Applying for a closure order at Colchester Magistrates’ Court, Victoria Jempson said: “One of the tenants was charged with a drug offence until he explained to the police he had been a victim of cuckooing and the charge was subsequently dropped.

“In May last year, it became clear there was drug dealing and drug using taking place - one resident described it as like a mini-Beirut.

“A housing officer gave statements where residents said they have been threatened with a knife by a man linked to the flat.

“People have told the housing association they do not feel safe, they are sleep deprived and suffer fear and intimidation.”

Ms Jempson also revealed neighbours have been threatened when parking their cars in an area used for drug dealing, residents had been attacked and used needles, excrement and vomit had regularly been discovered in communal areas.

Police raided the property last month and found it in a state of disrepair.

Magistrates ordered the property was closed for an initial three months to prevent criminal behaviour, nuisance and disorder.

Only the tenants, emergency service personnel, staff from Swan Housing, care workers and support agency staff are permitted to enter