Dad's fury as vandals run riot at Jack's graveside

THE father of hit-and-run victim Jack Anderson today told how sick vandals smashed a memorial bench erected at the schoolboy's grave then burnt a Satanic symbol into grass next to the plot.

• The pentagram burnt into the grass beside the grave of Jack Anderson, inset

Michael Anderson said the campaign of vandalism at Saughton Cemetery had been "very upsetting" as police hunted for those responsible.

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The wooden bench was placed at the graveside to give family and friends a place to sit and reflect during visits to the plot where Jack, who was killed aged ten in October 2006, is buried.

Its legs were broken off in the first attack after the bench was smashed against a tree. Council staff later had to cement the seat in the ground after it was deliberately moved again.

On Monday, family members discovered a pentagram - a five-pointed star often linked to Satanism - burnt into the ground using a chemical just a few feet away from Jack's headstone.

Vandals had previously destroyed much of the grass surrounding graves next to Jack's and Mr Anderson has contacted cemetery officials to have the area re-turfed.

Mr Anderson, 42, said: "We had a bench placed there for Jack about two years ago. This nonsense seems to have been happening in the last month or so, probably since the start of the school holidays. It's very upsetting and we can't understand why it's being done.

"We don't feel as if we're being deliberately targeted. The bench for Jack is about the only one up there but I think we would take it away if anything else happens because it's too much to see when we go to the cemetery.

"It's an easy target for what is deliberate vandalism. It does make you wonder why people would want to carry out this malicious damage.

"We noticed the pentagram when we visited Jack's grave on Monday. It must have been done over the weekend. Some of the other dried grass looks like it's been done over the last couple of weeks using some kind of chemical.

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"We're hoping that they will be able to replace the turf, not just for Jack but for all the people who have plots there.

"We've never had any problems with Jack's grave itself but we've been left concerned by what has been happening recently."

Jack was knocked down and killed in Saughton Road North on a pedestrian crossing that was showing a green man, just yards from his home.

Isaac Purcell, who was driving the speeding Peugeot and trying to get away from the police, sped off without stopping after hitting the youngster, who was walking home from school.

Purcell began a 12-year jail sentence in October 2007, aged 26, after pleading guilty to culpable homicide.Saughton is one of the six privately-owned cemeteries compulsorily purchased by the city council in 1994.

Councillor Robert Aldridge, the city's environment leader, said: "This is a despicable act and will be very upsetting to relatives who have family members buried here.

"The council will do everything in our power to help the police catch these mindless vandals. Antisocial behaviour like this should not be tolerated."

A police spokesman said: "Lothian and Borders Police are investigating after an Edinburgh cemetery was vandalised. Officers were alerted after the soil in and around a number of graves was damaged using a chemical substance.

"Anyone with information that can assist with our investigation is asked to contact police immediately."