Police hunt vandal after ‘terrible defacement’ of benches and tombstones in Redbourn

Vandals have targeted memorial benches and tombstones in Redbourn to spread coronavrius conspiracy m

Vandals have targeted memorial benches and tombstones in Redbourn to spread coronavrius conspiracy messages. Picture: St Albans District Council - Credit: Archant

Fourteen benches, tombstones and a bus shelter in Redbourn were vandalised with slogans falsely suggesting COVID-19 is a myth.

Officers are now hunting for those responsible for the offensive graffiti, which could result in a charge of criminal damage.

The benches, which belong to Redbourn Parish Council, were defaced over several days. They were situated at different locations in the village including the Common.

Several of them were dedicated to the memory of well-known residents, having been funded by their loved ones. They are clearly marked with nameplates.

Among the graffiti slogans that were written with a permanent marker was one that said: “Real crisis! Fake Pandemic! They’re destroying our lives!”

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Another said: “We cannot ‘catch’ a virus – do some research! Wake up!”

St Albans City and District Council has offered to erase the writing with the help of its waste contractor Veolia.

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The benches will be repainted or varnished.

Councillor David Mitchell, chair of the parish council, said: “The graffiti has not only been scrawled on paths and walls around the village, it has also been written on memorial benches on the common, and even on tombstones at St Mary’s Church.

“This has been very upsetting for local residents and we are all very puzzled as to why someone would do this even, if they think COVID-19 is ’fake news’.”

St Albans District Council leader Chris White said: “We offered to help Redbourn Parish Council as soon as we heard about the defacement of these benches and I’m pleased that has been accepted.

“This is a terrible act and I hope that the culprit can be tracked down and arrested. They have not only vandalised public property but also tried to give voice to a conspiracy theory that many people will find very offensive.”

The parish council alerted Herts police to the crime and anyone with information should contact them by calling 101 or logging details online at herts.police.uk/Information-and-services/About-us/Contact.

Councillor Mitchell added: “Fortunately, there is a great community spirit in Redbourn and the response to dealing with the virus has been taken seriously. The Redbourn Care Group and the Redbourn Coronavirus Volunteers, with support from the Redbourn Parish Council, have a very robust Covid-19 response team. Anyone who needs to contact them can do so on 01582 794550 or info@redbourncaregroup.co.uk.”

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