The Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News are today offering a £500 reward for information which leads to the conviction of vandals who smashed 17 gravestones at a city cemetery and crematorium.

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Bereaved families had a heartbreaking start to the new year when the heartless vandals attacked the three gravestones at a family plot in Earlham Cemetery and 14 headstones in Earlham Crematorium.

On Wednesday morning staff at the cemetery discovered three memorials had been smashed in the western area of the cemetery off Farrow Road.

And in the memorial garden of the crematorium headstones, including that of a nine-year-old child and a 92-year-old man, were attacked.

Joseph Smith was called by his cousin on Wednesday about the damage and drove from his home in Cambridge to Norwich.

Shattered stones, a broken angel’s head and a smashed Jesus now lay where flowers and figurines once stood in proud memory of his father, grandfather and uncle.

“I’m gutted,” he said. “I don’t know what we are going to do. The damage is several thousand pounds.

“Why? What enjoyment can you get out of doing something like that? They just cause heartache and grief for the family.”

The 56-year-old’s father and grandfather, both called Joseph, were buried in the plot in 1984 and 1968.

His grandmother, Violet, was added to his grandfather’s plot in 1991 and his uncle Levi whose grave cost £17,000 was laid to rest in 2008.

Mr Smith’s wife Elizabeth, 55, added: “They’ve been up all these years and you don’t expect anything to happen.”

And Mr Smith questioned why the council had not locked the cemetery gates on the night of New Year’s Day, which meant the gang could walk through the cemetery and crematorium unchallenged.

The cemetery is normally locked every night, but was left open over the New Year break.

A spokesman for Norwich City Council said: “We find it very sad that a minority of people took it upon themselves to vandalise some of the memorials and show such careless disregard for all that cemeteries stand for and we sympathise with the families involved. We asked our contractor to leave the cemetery gates open over the New Year period so that people could pay their respects at any time.

“But by their very nature, cemeteries are not created to be fortresses.

“Instead, they are designed to be accessible, dignified and peaceful places for anyone who has lost a loved one and wants to pay their respects.”

Police said the damage at the crematorium took place between 8.30am on New Year’s Eve and 8.30am on Wednesday, while the damage at the cemetery happened between 11am on Tuesday and 10.45am on Wednesday.

The vandals pulled the headstones down and kicked them, while two large marble angels between 6ft and 8ft tall and a smaller 4ft angel at Mr Smith’s family plot were pushed over and smashed. Yesterday, all but one of the stones in the crematorium had been stood upright again, but the headstones remain loose.

A stonemason is visiting the crematorium today to repair the damage.

Norwich policing commander supt Paul Sanford described the culprits as “heartless”.

He said: “We take these types of offences extremely seriously and in each case will make every effort to find those responsible.

“We need the public’s help in order to do this and I would urge anyone who may have witnessed people acting suspiciously in the area to come forward.”

A spokesman for Dignity, which manages the crematorium, said: “We have tried to contact all the clients concerned and have managed to speak to all but one of the families.

“We understand the distress that this senseless act will cause our clients and we will meet all of the stonemason’s costs in restoring these memorials.”

•Anyone with information should contact officers at Earlham Police Station on 101, or call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

As well as the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News reward, Mr Smith is also offering a substantial reward for information leading to the arrests and convictions of those responsible for the damage to his family’s memorials.

18 comments

  • Despicable crime with a big helping hand from the failed nuLabour council and their crony partners.

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Friday, January 4, 2013

  • I think you're losing sight of the issue here. Forget politics and blame the idiots who did it. The important thing is the poor families left devastated by this mindless act. As founder of a charity which helps fund memorials for young children, I know only too well how important it is to have a proper resting place for loved ones and I send my sympathy to the families affected

    Report this comment

    Karen-Louise

    Friday, January 4, 2013

  • if i remember rightly there used to be a gap in the fence on the gypsy lane road where you can just walk in night or day,, so no gates will stop these kind of people if they want to get in,, i have family in there and feel disgusted for what these idiots have done,,

    Report this comment

    morello

    Friday, January 4, 2013

  • My sympathies to the affected families. Leaving the cemetery open during the festive period is fine, but over night? who in their right mind will want to visit a Cemetery at night time? The statuaries can be repaired, but will the culprits be caught? and ordered to 200hrs each, helping to make good their vandalism?

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, January 4, 2013

  • nrg, are you for real? Blaming the Labour council and crony partners? No wonder the real culprits never get caught !

    Report this comment

    Bruce87

    Friday, January 4, 2013

  • And what will the courts do , give them a little fine i guess !!!!!!!!!!!!

    Report this comment

    kettle1

    Friday, January 4, 2013

  • Many of us would like to see these Morons receive a good beating from the local community.....even if there caught a caution means nothing to these idiots .....

    Report this comment

    dave123

    Friday, January 4, 2013

  • Peter they lock the gates every night, difference being this one was a bank holiday.The 'pay respects' at anytime, is just a smoke and mirror thingy, a usual trait from the failed nuLabour. Extra costs would not occur as these contracts are drawn up to cover such periods.

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Friday, January 4, 2013

  • Discusting, but, typical of today's society, no respect for anyone or anything. Waste of time and money trying to catch the culprits as they do not receive the appropiate punishment. My thoughts go to those who's graves were destroyed.

    Report this comment

    Lynda

    Saturday, January 5, 2013

  • And to think we have these "folk" wandering freely amongst the rest of us. I simply do not understand WHY????

    Report this comment

    Urbancommander

    Friday, January 4, 2013

  • Sad to see, especially for the families. When I looked at the photograph it immediately reminded me of the churchyard scenes in the past where the councils go pushing over gravestones due to health and safety, don't suppose they can be called criminals.

    Report this comment

    Marigold

    Friday, January 4, 2013

  • My sympathies to the affected families. Leaving the cemetery open during the festive period is fine, but over night? who in their right mind will want to visit a Cemetery at night time? The statuaries can be repaired, but will the culprits be caught? and ordered to 200hrs each, helping to make good their vandalism?

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, January 4, 2013

  • This is a dispicable act of vandalism and a very sad story for Norwich. My brother lies in the cemetery and I would be absolutely mortified if his stone was vandilised. Deepest sympathies to all concerned, and lets hope the culprits are caught and shamed!

    Report this comment

    Voice of reason

    Friday, January 4, 2013

  • As much as I dont like Labour, I dont really think you can blame them, quite right, read the story again and you'll see they left it open so people could pay their respects over the new year. Pay the gate keeper triple pay then you can complain about taxes going up because we have to pay people extra to lock a gate. Shouldnt have to worry about locking it in the first place.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Friday, January 4, 2013

  • scum, scum, scum, scum and more scum. what sick individual would do this? find them and lock them up!

    Report this comment

    markt74

    Friday, January 4, 2013

  • brucie baby, am real fella. Try reading the story again...the nuLabour council left the gates open. Their crony contractors probably didn't want to pay the gate keeper triple coinage for working holiday period.

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Friday, January 4, 2013

  • the same awful thing happened at great plumstead church about 8 years ago, the person we were told that done the crime is the same person that has been sent to prison for 5 and half years for rape today

    Report this comment

    lisa

    Friday, January 4, 2013

  • Marigold, I had them same thoughts too about the highly paid grave wobblers....I'm pretty sure that the wobblers would've already cast their elf and safety eye over the destruction before and after, followed by 'they shouldn't have them that big agenda'.

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Friday, January 4, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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