Harpenden graves destroyed by vandals

PUBLISHED: 07:00 12 October 2017

Damaged gravestones in Westfield Road Cemetery. Picture: Danny Loo

Damaged gravestones in Westfield Road Cemetery. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

Vandals wreaked a trail of destruction through a council cemetery, kicking over gravestones and smashing memorials.

Damaged gravestones in Westfield Road Cemetery. Picture: Danny LooDamaged gravestones in Westfield Road Cemetery. Picture: Danny Loo

Nine headstones at Westfield Road Cemetery in Harpenden were broken and kicked over on the afternoon of Thursday October 5, and St Albans district council (SADC) is now trying to locate and inform the plot owners, some of which date back decades.

The wreckage was discovered by cemetery staff on Friday morning.

Head of community services for SADC, Debbi White, said: “This is an appalling crime that is both disrespectful and potentially very upsetting to the relatives of those buried there.

“The police are investigating and we will, of course, give them every assistance that we can with their inquiries.”

Damaged gravestones in Westfield Road Cemetery. Picture: Danny LooDamaged gravestones in Westfield Road Cemetery. Picture: Danny Loo

She said the remaining gravestones have now been made safe, and they are searching for affected families to “discuss their options”.

District councillor for Harpenden North, Bert Pawle, added: “I am saddened people have got that attitude, it’s disrespectful.

“It obviously happened in daylight, hours before dusk, and we need to ask ourselves what we can do? You can’t put up CCTV, it’s intrusive, but we need to see what can be done.”

He believed the graves were from the 1930s and 40s, and plot owners could therefore be difficult to locate.

A spokesperson from Herts Police said they are investigating: “The Safer Neighbourhood Team are conducting high visibility patrols in and around the cemetery and the surrounding areas.”

The vandalism comes after a previous incident in 2011, when thieves repeatedly stole flowers from Westfield Road Cemetery.

The plot was for a keen gardener and the flowers were planted and cared for in tribute to him by his family. It was even known as Grandad’s Garden by his two great-grandchildren and several of his 10 grandchildren.

SADC is responsible for two other cemeteries in the district - Hatfield Road Cemetery and London Road Cemetery.

Last year, a grieving mum found glass butterfly ornaments had been stolen from her daughter’s Hatfield Road Cemetery grave.

Anyone with information should contact 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

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A few years back I was fixing a shed in our garden and had enlisted the help of my young son. We were busy moving rotten pieces of wood from the side of the shed when suddenly I felt sharp stabbing pains in my lower legs. Before I had a chance to investigate my son started screaming in pain and it took a few more seconds to realize that we were trampling on a wasps’ nest!

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