Graves vandalised by heartless thugs
Tuesday, 18 March 2014
SICK vandals targeted the graves of Monks Hill Cemetery, Newry, on Thursday and Saturday night including the grave of little Lorcan McMahon-Preece who passed away in January.
Up to 45 graves were vandalised during the sickening attacks as wooden crosses were pulled up and grave-side ornaments were smashed.
Laurence McAlinden, whose grandmother's grave was also damaged, came across the shocking images on Facebook on Thursday night after another family had posted them online and, along with his father, visited his grandmother's grave to try and repair the damage. Laurence then text Lorcan's father, Barney Preece to tell him what had happened.
“I couldn't sleep once I heard the news," said Barney. "Laurence had text me to say that Lorcan's grave was damaged as well as his granny's and I seen the photos on Facebook and I was in shock.
“I couldn't sleep, I had to go out and walk the dogs and everything. I went this morning [Friday] about nine o'clock to tidy the grave up. There were peoples' crosses that had been put on different graves. It's disgusting.
“I rang Laurence to thank him for tidying up what he could when he was up last night. It's very distressing, I don't know how someone can do something like that. It's frustrating." Brave Lorcan, son of Barney and Eve McMahon, passed away in January, just two months shy of his second birthday.
He spent most of his short life in hospital and underwent brain surgery nine times after being born with a rare condition known as Gross-Hydrocephalus, a build-up of fluid which causes gradual deterioration of the brain.
“I just want these people to have a bit of respect," said Barney. "It's hard enough. These are fresh graves and people are only put into the ground, it's unfair on anybody to have to go through this."
Laurence's grandmother was also buried at Monks Hill Cemetery in January and couldn't believe what he discovered after he and his father arrived at the scene.
“I noticed the cross my dad got for my nanny's grave and certain flowers that were on her grave when the photos went up on Facebook," explained Laurence.
“So we went up and checked to see what happened and it was an awful sight to see. It was an absolute disgrace.
“They ran all over the graves, kicked soil everywhere and lifted crosses and fired them about.
“When we went up I told my dad not to stand on the graves because I wanted to see if there were any footprints. There was a guttie print of about a size five or six and a boot print that was about size 10.
“I don't like to be pointing fingers but it seems that it was teenagers that did this. There are gaps in the fence that need to be looked at.
“It's not nice no matter what, especially with it being so soon. I can understand how it may be harder for the likes of Barney because his child was only one. I think there's another child a couple of graves down from Barney son's grave too and they jumped all over it."
Sinn Fein Councillor, Valerie Harte, whose mother's grave was among those targeted, was "disgusted" by the senseless attacks.
“I am totally disgusted that anyone would deliberately damage a grave, however the fact that my recently deceased mother's grave was among those targeted makes it all the more devastating that this has happened on two occasions," she said.
“For all of the families involved this is extremely upsetting however for the loved ones of four small babies whose graves were destroyed I can only imagine the pain and annoyance must be dreadful."
While Councillor Brendan Curran added: "This has caused huge distress. I'd like to congratulate the council worker who stayed up half the night not only to tidy up the mess, but to keep the graves safe and make sure there was no return to destroy more."
Anyone with any information has been asked to contact police in Ardmore on 0845 600 8000 or if you prefer to give information anonymously call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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