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Welsh couple cop Mosquito flak

Neighbours demand buzz off

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A Welsh couple who installed a Mosquito device outside their house have found themselves at the centre of the ethical debate on the youth-repelling gadget.

Colin Martin installed the Compound Security device, which uses high-pitched noise to stop teenagers hanging around, after suffering all manner of abuse. The teens smashed windows, climbed onto his house and vandalised the security camera he fitted to gather evidence. The Mosquito succeeded in stopping the anti-social antics, but Martin now complains that he can no longer host visits from his grandchildren, who are frightened by the noise as well as being offended by the language of the local youth.

Local police can do little to help, as the youths simply hide when they turn up.

Since acquiring the Mosquito, Martin reports "it was as if we had moved to a new house". He only activates the device when he feels the local youth are going to start gathering, and switches it off once he's confident they've dispersed. The device is certainly unpopular in the neighbourhood, and those it affects are keen to state their grievance when Martin is visible, but he feels the abuse he suffers when out of the house is worth it for the peace he gains within it.

However, while Martin can turn off his Mosquito when his grandchildren visit, those nearby aren't so lucky and other residents are finding visits from their own grandchildren disrupted by the noise. The tone is loud enough to be heard, by those with sufficiently good hearing, from several houses away - so Martin isn't just protecting his own property.

Those who want youngsters to be able to drop by have complained about the noise to the police, but as no laws are being broken they won't get involved. The local Environmental Health has written to Martin asking him, in a form letter, to shut off the source of the noise or they'll be round to assess the situation. If that happens then it could be the test case the inventor was hoping for - Environmental Health will decide if the Mosquito comes under the definition of a "nuisance", and if so they can force Martin, and anyone else using one, to shut it off.

Sole suppliers of the device Compound Security are keen to emphasise the Mosquito has no long-term health issues, and the Home Office has made it clear they've no intention of banning the device. Previous deployments have been outside commercial premises, and Compound Security claims they'll only sell the device to private individuals "in extreme cases and only to those people who have exhausted ALL OTHER AVENUES to resolve their problems".

With more than 5000 whining boxes already deployed, this could be the somewhat surreal test case that decides if anyone has the right to discriminate against others purely on the basis of their ability to hear. ®

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