A GRIEVING family were left devastated after discovering drug paraphernalia scattered around the graveside of a much-loved son and brother.
The relatives of Gary Dowson were “disgusted” after finding tin foil with what appears to be traces of heroin on it scattered around his grave in Stranton Cemetery, off Brierton Lane, in Hartlepool.
They are also furious that treasured sentimental gifts they placed on Gary’s resting place have repeatedly been stolen over the last nine weeks, with one item being ripped from the grave despite the family going to the extreme lengths of drilling it down to stop thieves.
Today, his sister, Jodie Dowson, 22, a student nurse, said: “It’s just sickening. I don’t understand what anyone would get out of doing this.
“It’s totally disrespectful and my poor mam is really upset about it. We’re disgusted.
“People who have died should be left to rest and their families should be able to go and visit their graves without having to deal with things like this.”
The family have placed three model motorbikes at the grave of bike-fanatic Gary, who was aged just 20 when he passed away on May 26 last year after attending a party with friends.
But just days after the little bikes were left, they were stolen.
Jodie, who lives in the Rossmere area, said: “We put little model motorbikes on his grave because he used to love his motorbikes.
“They were like trials bikes and they didn’t cost a lot of money or anything but that’s not the point. It’s memorabilia and it’s of sentimental value.
“They’ve all been stolen. We put the last one on three weeks ago and actually drilled a hole in his plot to secure it down, but it’s been ripped off.
“Then there was a load of tin foil there with burnt heroin on it, there was quite a lot.
“We’re just so sick of it. It’s just awful. Gary’s plot is right at the end of the cemetery, you don’t have to walk past it, you’d have to walk to it.
“We think it’s the same person with three of the bikes going missing.”
She added: “My mam daren’t go on her own now in case this person turns up while she’s there. It should be a place where we can go to remember him without being scared about what we’re going to turn up to.”
Gary, who is one of nine siblings, was at a friend’s house in Gritten Square, on Hartlepool’s Central Estate, when the tragedy happened.
Friends woke to discover his lifeless body and dialled 999 but it was too late.
His mum, Tracy Dowson, 42, has always been too upset to speak publicly about her son’s death.
A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said the incidents have been reported to officers, who are due to go and visit the family.