Friends of stab victim Matthew Baggott helped to remove tributes daubed on the side of cottages in St John's Court following his death on Thursday.

Bouquets were left at the entrance to St John's Churchyard on Friday but soon the tributes began to get out of hand.

Messages were written up on the walls of numbers 2 and 3 St John's Court in blue felt tip pen.

But when a huge phallic symbol was drawn on the wall of number 2, police officers supplied drinkers in the churchyard with paint to cover over the messages.

One resident said: "You don't mind them leaving flowers, but writing on the wall was a bit much."

Police community support officers from Devizes police station moved the tributes into the churchyard.

Neighbours near St John's Churchyard said the situation among drinkers congregating there has been building for some time.

One resident said: "When we first moved here we found them quite intimidating but one of our friends said most of them were all right and, in fact, we have got quite friendly with them now.

"But during the summer there have been more and more gathering up there."

Last Thursday police confiscated drink and one person received a fixed penalty ticket for drinking in a no-alcohol zone.

Another resident said: "The church don't help. We have spoken to the churchwarden and his attitude is if we ban them they might damage our church'.

"The police told us they can't do anything because the church allow them to meet there. We don't mind the regulars, but it is the hangers-on who cause problems."

Another resident said families congregate there. He said: "We had a woman dancing around naked not so long ago.

"They urinate all over the churchyard and up against people's houses."

Police inspector Dean Knight said the alcohol ban on streets in the town centre is vigorously enforced. The churchyard is covered by one of the bylaws instituted by Devizes Town and Kennet District councils.

Bob Simpson, one of the churchwardens at St John's, which is closed after a fire, said the group had not been given explicit permission to gather there.

He said: "As long as they were not causing any harm, it was agreed to let them congregate there. Although they are perceived as being threatening, they actually cause very little problem.

"They sometimes shelter from the wind and weather in the church porch."

The group was invited to St Mary's Church to take part in a service on Sunday. Mr Simpson said: "About ten of them turned up. Prayers were said for Matthew Baggott."

Inspector Knight said: "Whatever the agreement between the church and the drinkers, it did not prevent my officers carrying out their duties and moving on the drinkers from the churchyard, which they did."

Read all our stabbing coverage