A GRIEVING family have slammed heartless thugs who smashed a headstone in a cemetery just a week after it had been placed on a grave.
Alan Bailey’s headstone was placed on his grave in Stranton Cemetery, off Tanfield Road, Hartlepool, after his loving relatives clubbed together and paid £750 for it.
Alan died in May after suffering a heart attack, and after having the headstone put in place on September 16, his loved ones gathered at the cemetery to adorn it with balloons and decorations just four days later to mark what would have been Alan’s 66th birthday.
But just two days after that, one of the former roofer’s nephews discovered the headstone had been trashed when he went to the cemetery to pay his respects.
Today Alan’s heartbroken sister Christine Monaghan said the whole family was “gutted” and could believe that someone could carry out such an act on a person’s grave.
The 64-year-old said: “It’s disgraceful, it’s unreal.
“I can’t believe that a person could take a hammer to a man’s headstone and knock it to the ground as he’s lying in his grave.
“We haven’t even got over him dying and then this happens. We just can’t understand it at all, Alan was a lovely person.”
Hartlepool-born Alan was not married and had no children, and spent the last few years of his life living in Middlesbrough.
The shocked family informed the police of the vandalism, and officers are investigating.
Christine, a mum-of-two and grandmother-of-two from Seaton Carew, said a stonemason came to look at the wrecked headstone to give an estimate on repairs and said he believed the £300 of damage had been caused with a hammer.
She added: “The stonemason said someone had been hammering at it.
“What kind of person does that? There were still balloons on the grave from his birthday.
“The headstone has been stood back up again now, but it’s not properly fixed and we haven’t had the repairs done to it yet in case anybody comes back again.
“We’re just going to leave it for while because we can’t afford to get it repaired and then have to pay out again if something else happens.”
She added: “It’s disgusting, never in my life have I heard of this happening.
“Words can’t describe it really. It just makes you feel sick to the stomach.”
A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said the incident occurred between 9pm on Sunday, September 22, and 8am the following day.
She said: “An unknown person has entered the cemetery during these hours and caused damage to a headstone.
“They have hit it with an object similar to a hammer causing two dents in the polished granite, and then tipped the headstone over, causing £300 worth of damage.”
Anyone who has any information on the vandalism should contact PC Christopher Molloy on the non-emergency number 101.