Bereaved to bear cost of vandalism

Headstones have been vandalised in the St Martin's Cemetery, Haddington.   Picture Ian Rutherford

Headstones have been vandalised in the St Martin's Cemetery, Haddington. Picture Ian Rutherford

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GRIEVING families will bear the cost of a vandalism spree at a cemetery that saw mindless yobs topple 15 headstones in one night.

Relatives of the deceased whose plots were desecrated in the rampage at St Martin’s Cemetery, Haddington, will now have to pay around £430 each to reinstate the gravestones – many of which have been shattered.

Detectives believe yobs laid siege to the monuments on Monday night. A gate to the graveyard had been discovered torn from its hinges the 
following day.

Haddington stalwart Elizabeth Sommerville, 76, whose parents, brother and grandparents are buried at St Martin’s Cemetery, said she was struck dumb by the heartbreaking crime.

“I still don’t know if any of my family’s graves have been affected yet and I won’t know until I go down later,” she said. “But it’s such an appalling thing to happen – I was so shocked I was left speechless and then swore, which I never do.

“What’s this world coming to if we can’t even leave the dead in peace? There’s something very sick in our society.”

And she asked: “What are we going to have to do to stop this, put CCTV in cemeteries now? The whole thing is mindless, very hurtful and makes you shudder.”

Andrew Hogarth, amenities officer at East Lothian Council who oversees maintenance at the cemetery, said grave desecrations were very “unusual” in East Lothian.

He said: “I’m very saddened because it’s brought a lot of extra expense and upset to families as it will be up to families to replace them.

“I’m really concerned because it takes quite a lot of force to move these headstones so they fall over. I want to get the message out that it’s really dangerous doing this sort of thing and whoever is doing it might end up damaging themselves.”

Inspector Bob Rodriguez said: “This is an abhorrent crime that has caused genuine distress to the families and friends of those whose graves were affected.

“Anyone who remembers seeing any suspicious activity around the cemetery in the past couple of weeks is asked to contact police immediately.

“Similarly, we would urge anyone with information that can help trace those responsible to also come forward.”

An East Lothian Council spokesperson said: “We are appalled by the callousness involved in these acts of vandalism and the distress they have caused relatives visiting St Martin’s cemetery.

“We hope that anyone who knows anything will come forward and help the police track the vandals down.”

david.mccann@edinburghnews.com

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