Repairs for Norwich crematorium and cemetery headstones kicked over by thugs

Repair work to 14 headstones which were damaged in a new year's attack on Earlham Crematorium began yesterday, as police said they were pursuing various leads to catch the vandals.

The headstones at the crematorium were kicked over between 8.30am on New Year's Eve and 8.30am on Wednesday, while three gravestones in the western area of Earlham Cemetery were vandalised between 11am on Tuesday January 1 and 10.45am on Wednesday January 2.

Dignity, the private firm which runs the crematorium, is paying for the repair work on the 14 stones, which included those of a nine-year-old child and a 92-year-old man.

But the family which owns the plot where the three cemetery memorials were damaged will have to foot the repair bill, likely to cost several thousand pounds.

Joseph Smith, 56, whose grandfather, grandmother, father and uncle were buried in the plot said he was holding Norwich City Council partially responsible for not locking the cemetery gates.

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The council said the gates were left open so people could visit their loved ones over new year.

A Norfolk Constabulary spokesman said: 'No arrests have yet been made, but our investigations into this crime continue and we are pursuing lines of enquiry.

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'We would reiterate what was said previously in that we take these types of offences extremely seriously.

'Apart from the physical damage, the actions will have caused great emotional distress to the families concerned.'

Evening News readers also expressed their horror at the damage yesterday.

One wrote: 'This is a despicable act of vandalism and a very sad story for Norwich.

'My brother lies in the cemetery and I would be absolutely mortified if his stone was vandalised.

'Deepest sympathies to all concerned and lets hope the culprits are caught and shamed.'

Others visited our offices in Rouen Road to see what they could do to help.

Reader John Armstrong, 79, from Hellesdon has offered a �50 reward on top of the �500 already being offered by the Evening News for information which leads to convictions.

He said: 'There are not adequate words to describe the wanton, cruel, vandalism I witnessed in the pages of the Evening News at the Earlham Road Cemetery. Have these morons no conscience?'

Mr Smith is also offering a substantial reward for information which leads to convictions.

Anyone with information or any witnesses should contact officers at Earlham Police Station on 101, or call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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