Grave thieves labelled “scum”

Grieving mother Julie Briscoe
Grieving mother Julie Briscoe

A DISTRAUGHT mum has labelled cruel thieves who stole toys and ornaments from the graves of her dead children as “scum”.

Hartlepool mum Julie Briscoe visited Stranton Cemetery on Easter Sunday to leave a number of treasured items on the graves of her daughter Amy, whose birthday it was on the same day the thieves struck, and son Andrew.

But when the 45-year-old returned the following day the devastated mum discovered several of the ornaments and plaques had been stolen.

Daughter Amy, who was born on March 31, 1998, tragically died just two days later on April 2 at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, in Holdforth Road, after a short battle with pneumonia.

Easter Sunday would have marked her 15th birthday.

Julie’s son Andrew was stillborn at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, on November 13, 1999.

The pair are buried side by side in the Tanfield Road-based cemetery.

The stolen items include a pot rabbit holding a balloon with the words ‘Happy Easter’ on, two small pot ducks plus a plaque with ‘Happy Birthday’ written on.

They had all been lovingly left at the grave side before cruel thieves struck.

Julie, of Honiton Way, said: “Whoever has done this is just scum, there is no other word to describe them.

“How low can somebody go to steal items like this from a child’s grave?

“You should be able to leave items like this at your children’s grave without anything like this happening.

“This time of year is hard enough as it is with Amy’s birthday and we are just devastated.”

Julie and her husband Andrew Briscoe, 43, visited the graves several times on Easter Sunday, March 31, and left at 6pm on the night.

They returned at 4pm on Easter Monday and it is believed the thieves struck overnight.

The pair, who have another daughter, 11-year-old Annalise, who attends Manor College of Technology, want the items returned and those responsible brought to justice.

Julie added: “We visited the grave on Easter Sunday as we always do but this year also happened to be Amy’s birthday.

“Everything was fine when we left at teatime but whoever has taken them must have done it overnight.

“I think it must be kids messing about but it has really upset us.

“We have been walking around the cemetery to see if they have been thrown away somewhere but we have not had any luck.”

A council spokesman said: ”These despicable thefts have been reported to us and we appeal for anyone with information to contact the police.

“We will continue to be vigilant and work with the police to protect the cemetery from vandals and thieves.”

A spokesman for Cleveland Police confirmed the incident had been reported and urged anyone with information to call Hartlepool Police on the non-emergency 101 number.