Vandals damage grave

PUBLISHED: 17:30 02 October 2008 | UPDATED: 11:55 03 July 2010

THE family of a Great Yarmouth man who lost a three-year battle with cancer have spoken of their distress after his grave was decimated with paint.

The attack on the grave of Anthony Hill comes exactly a year after his death at the age of 45.

THE family of a Great Yarmouth man who lost a three-year battle with cancer have spoken of their distress after his grave was decimated with paint.

The attack on the grave of Anthony Hill comes exactly a year after his death at the age of 45.

Mr Hill's ashes are buried in the children's garden at Gorleston Crematorium - it was his wish that he be buried with his daughter Jodie-Ashley, who was stillborn 12 years ago.

His headstone has been damaged beyond repair after vandals threw paints and chipped it. It had been forcibly dislodged and decorative items on both graves have been ruined, some stolen.

One of Mr Hill's heartbroken daughters spoke to the Mercury and said the family were extremely distressed by the incident.

The woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “We are devastated. He was the kindest man in the world and to think someone could do that is sick. I don't know how anyone could do that.

“Staff at the crematorium had to check whether my dad's ashes were still buried because the area had been so disturbed. Fortunately they were, but it was not nice waiting for that news.”

A gazebo in the children's section, where relatives leave messages, photographs and items for loved ones, was also targeted by the thugs. A photograph of one of Mr Hill's grandsons was stolen from the gazebo, causing further upset to the family.

The family was informed of the damage by crematorium staff and a few days later Mr Hill's daughter plucked up the courage to visit the grave and see the damage for herself.

She said: “I sobbed my heart out, I just cried when I saw it.”

Mr Hill died on September 15 last year at his Yarmouth home where he was being cared for by his wife.

His daughter said: “Dad had battled with a rare form of cancer for three years.”

And she pleaded for witnesses to come forward.

“I just want to know why someone would do this. If anyone has any information, no matter how small or insignificant it might seem, please come forward. We thought we had put my dad to peace. He meant the world to us and we want those responsible to be caught.”

Originally from Sheffield, the family moved to Yarmouth 13 years ago and before his illness Mr Hill worked at the Merrivale Model Village, where a train has since been named in his memory.

This week, the borough council's bereavement services manager Linda Bigg said she had never seen a grave so badly damaged.

She told the Mercury: “I was shocked when I inspected the damage. Even the groundsmen said they had never seen anything like this before. Fortunately targeted attacks in the cemetery are very unusual.”

Mrs Bigg added it was a “targeted and despicable attack” on a grave adding “I feel desperately sad for the family”.

The cemetery's gates are locked overnight from 7pm until 7.30am and investigating officer DC Kevin Sagon believes the damage was carried out overnight.

He said: “This is a horrendous crime which has impacted heavily on the family. I would urge any witnesses to contact us.”

Anyone with information should contact DC Sagon at Yarmouth police station on 0845 456 4567. People can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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