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Handbag stolen as mother tends to her son’s grave in Gaywood, King’s Lynn

11:38 29 May 2014

Gayton Road Cemetery, Gaywood. Picture: Ian Burt

Gayton Road Cemetery, Gaywood. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2014

A handbag thief has robbed a bereaved mum of a priceless memento of her dead son.

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Sheena Cartin, 56, lost her son Luke Sellers six weeks ago, when he passed away suddenly at the age of 28.

Before he died, she promised to look after a toy soldier – the last survivor of a set of 24 he played with as a child.

But when she travelled from her home in Bishops Stortford, Essex, to visit his grave in Gaywood Cemetery on Saturday, May 24, a thief smashed the window of her parked car and fled with her handbag, which had the two-inch wooden soldier in a zipped compartment.

Mrs Cartin said: “I come from Essex to visit my son’s grave every other weekend to put flowers on there and to talk to him.

When I realised that my handbag had been stolen, I screamed as I knew my son’s toy soldier was in there - it was the last link I had to him.

“It was horrendous - like losing him all over again.”

Mrs Cartin was with her two daughters, Corinne, 26, and Ashleigh, 19 when the silver Ford Focus was broken into at around 1.15pm.

Someone witnessed the break-in from a distance and immediately called the police, but the thief biked off at a speed.

Mrs Cartin’s black leather-look bag contained a purse which held bank cards, lottery tickets and a white Samsung mobile phone.

But it’s the toy soldier, which is painted blue and red is what she desperately wants back.

She tearfully said: “The bag can be replaced, but it’s the toy soldier I want back. It was a standing joke between me and Luke as I used to tell him I would bring it back to him and he asked me to keep it safe, so I have had it with me since he died.”

Mrs Cartin described her son as being adored by his family and a person who “liked a laugh.” He was also a father of two children, Jack and Chloe from a previous relationship.

She added: “It was such a shock when he died, he was healthy and no previous illness. It was very sudden.”

The grieving mum said she couldn’t understand why would anyone steal from a cemetery area.

She said: “The person knew where I was. To do something like that - I can’t understand it. I would just ask them to please return the toy, or if someone finds it, just put it in a safe place and ring the police.”

But Mrs Cartin praised the many people who have helped her through the traumatic experience.

She said: “The people of King’s Lynn have been amazing. They have been sharing a page on Facebook to ask for people to look for the bag - even people I don’t even know. I am so grateful for their help.”

PC Danielle Robinson said: “The victim in this incident is devastated by the loss of this item, which hold great sentimental value.

She is desperate to have this item, which was in a zipped compartment of the bag, returned to her. We would ask anyone with information about where the bag is or anyone who witnessed this incident to come forward.”

Anyone who saw anything or has any information should contact PC Danielle Robinson at King’s Lynn Police Station on 101.

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