A YOUNG internet-savvy Cantabrian is reportedly the mastermind behind an online party invite that went viral and sparked massive riots in a small town in The Netherlands which caused NZ$1.6 million worth of damage.
Dutch media are reporting that 21-year-old Jesse Hobson set up a hoax Facebook page from his home town of Dunsandel, near Christchurch, inviting people to crash a girl’s 16th birthday party in the small town of Haren.
Mr Hobson told APNZ that he had tried to organise a “good old-fashioned street party” but it instead turned into a 5000-strong riot after over 30,000 people “liked” the Facebook invite page.
Hundreds of police tried to control the partygoers, some of whom set cars on fire, smashed street signs and shop windows, in the early hours of Saturday.
The Dutch News reported that about 30 people were injured, including three police officers, and 34 arrests were made.
The Dutch Association of Insurers said damage could reach up to $NZ1.6 million ($A1.29 million).
Dutch Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten has promised that rioters will “be judged, punished and should pay for the damage done”.
Mr Hobson said he thought the hoax “would’ve been fun”.
“I was hoping for a good old-fashioned street party, with a few thousand people, good times,” he said.
“I didn’t want it to turn into a riot, obviously, but I might’ve been a bit optimistic, to be honest.”
He said he was sorry the party spiralled out of control but blamed troublemakers who crashed the event for causing the riot.
“But I probably won’t be doing anything like it again,” he said.
The girl whose 16th birthday had been crashed fled Haren, a town of about 18,000, before the riots began after being warned by police.
The hoax Facebook party invite was called Project Haren X – a reference to the film Project X that portrayed an out-of-control party.
The mayor of Haren, Rob Bats, told media: “Scum ran amok in our town.”