‘Protect graves’

From left, Sallyann Phillips, Michael Phillips, Deborah Mitchell, Graham Mitchell and Pauline Mitchell at Stranton cemetery
From left, Sallyann Phillips, Michael Phillips, Deborah Mitchell, Graham Mitchell and Pauline Mitchell at Stranton cemetery

THE mum of a tragic cyclist whose grave has been targeted in three sickening attacks wants a fence putting up to prevent thieves from striking again at a cemetery.

Deborah Mitchell, 52, has the support of more than 300 residents who back her idea to have a fence erected at the Brierton Lane side of Stranton Cemetery, in Hartlepool.

Deborah’s youngest son, Micheal, was killed while out on his bike in Billingham in May last year, aged 29.

But as well as doing her best to cope with Micheal’s tragic death, Deborah has also been dealt three extra sickening blows as heartless thieves raided his grave.

In the most recent attack, the thief got away with a personalised plaque and bike ornament last month that was left to mark Micheal’s 30th birthday which he would have celebrated in January.

Tragically Deborah, who has two other children and two grandchildren, says she now dreads going to visit her son’s grave as she fears what she might find.

“It’s bad enough losing your son, but the last thing I expected was to have to cope with this as well,” said Deborah, who lives in Wensleydale Street, in Hartlepool.

“Nobody should have to put up with what’s happening to us right now.

“We put ornaments and flowers on the roadside in Billingham where the accident happened and nobody touched them yet we put them on a grave and they’re stolen.”

Deborah says fencing is already in place on three sides of the cemetery, but the Brierton Lane side is only tree-lined.

She says it is easy for thieves to enter the green space from that side when the cemetery is closed.

Deborah spent five hours outside Hartlepool’s Central Library, in York Road, on Saturday where she collected 311 signatures from supportive residents.

She now plans to hand the petition over to Hartlepool Borough Council.

She added: “Anybody can get in at the Brierton Lane side when the cemetery is closed, we have done it ourselves just to see how easy it is.

“I’m hoping to get a fence put up at that side of the cemetery, I think there should be more security as well.

“A lot of people are concerned, the petition shows that.

“So many people have said to me that they can’t believe what we are having to put up with.”