AN 89-year-old widow has vowed not to be forced from her home by "cowardly" vandals who passed a hosepipe through her window and left it running overnight.

The partially-sighted pensioner was left traumatised after waking to find the floor flooded and her carpets ruined.

Police described the incident as appalling and malicious, and said the woman now felt unsafe living on her own.

The incident happened sometime between midnight and 8am on Saturday in Grange Crescent, Marton, Middlesbrough.

A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said that a hosepipe from a neighbour's garden was pushed through a window, then switched on at the tap.

Neighbour Rosalie Gooding called at the pensioner's home at 8am to discover the prank had caused several hundred pounds worth of damage.

She said: "It was just a dreadful thing to find. Whoever has done this cowardly thing needs to be caught.

"This has had a traumatic affect on a vulnerable, elderly lady. She is obviously very upset at the moment, but these yobs will not get her to move out of her home."

Ms Gooding added: "I check on my neighbour every morning to make sure she is okay and I found the hosepipe pushed through the window and water flooding into the bedroom.

"When I woke her and showed her the damage it had done to the spare room and the hall, she was absolutely devastated.

"The carpets were totally sodden - it was an appalling thing to do to someone."

Ms Gooding said that others living in the area had also been targeted by vandals and this was only the latest attack on the pensioner's home in the past few weeks.

"These people have filled her bin with water and they have smashed nearly every window in her greenhouse by throwing apples at them.

"People are regularly having their properties attacked as these youngsters just seem to be running rampage at will.

"Hopefully, after this latest attack something will be done around here.

"It's not right that we should have to put up with this sort of thing. It's no fun for anyone when this sort of thing is going on."

Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon, a former Cleveland Police detective, has called on the community try to help catch the people responsible.

He said: "This was a despicable act and I hope anyone in the area, who has any information, contacts the police or the community wardens as soon as possible.

"The community must rally round to ensure that no other vulnerable, elderly person is targeted in this way."

A police spokeswoman said: "This lady is at a loss as to why these people have picked on her, she cannot understand why it has happened to her."

PC Lee Rose, of Middlesbrough police, said: "The lady has lived in this house for many years and unfortunately now lives alone due to the death of her husband.

"Even though she has family who stay regularly, she now feels extremely vulnerable and afraid.

"I would welcome any information, no matter how small, so that the offenders can be put before a court of law to answer for this terrible act of mindless vandalism."

Anyone with information is asked to call police on (01624) 303126. Comment - Page 10