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Family of tragic toddler feared memorial bench had been stolen - but council had removed it

PUBLISHED: 13:20 19 August 2019 | UPDATED: 15:30 19 August 2019

Wesley Innes Jnr. Pic: Marlene Innes.

Wesley Innes Jnr. Pic: Marlene Innes.

Marlene Innes

A family was left devastated when they feared a memorial bench to a little boy who died had been stolen - only for it to turn out it had been removed by council workers.

The memorial bench for Wesley Innes. Pic: Marlene Innes.The memorial bench for Wesley Innes. Pic: Marlene Innes.

Bowthorpe boy Wesley Innes Jnr died at the age of just 19 months in August 2002.

The toddler had died of streptococcal septicaemia - a severe infection he had been unable to fight off as he had been born without a spleen.

He was buried at Earlham Cemetery, where his family bought three plots and installed a memorial bench, with a plaque, for him.

It has been there ever since, apart from a brief period recently when they took it away to refurbish it.

But when the family went to visit the site on the anniversary of Wesley's death last week they discovered his memorial bench had disappeared.

And, with Norfolk police recently launching an appeal after a memorial bench in Waterworks Road was reported stolen, they feared that Wesley's bench had also been targeted.

Wesley's grandmother Marlene Innes said: "The family went up to the cemetery on the anniversary of Wesley's death and the bench was gone.

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"We had only just had it cleaned up and put back in place and we thought it had been stolen. It upset everybody to think it might have been taken."

The family put an appeal on Facebook, asking for help in tracking down the missing bench.

But it emerged that the bench had not been stolen - but removed by city council workers.

Mrs Innes said she could not understand why it had been removed, given the family had permission for the bench.

But the city council said it was a temporary measure because it was not secured to the ground.

They have now arranged to put the bench back in place on Tuesday.

A Norwich City Council spokeswoman said: "We've been speaking to the family contact about this bench.

"The family were entirely within their rights to remove and refurbish the bench, but when it was returned our contractor noticed it wasn't secured to the ground.

"To avoid the possibility of it being stolen or vandalised it was temporarily removed.

"We've agreed with the family that the bench will be returned and fixed down."

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