A man whose mother’s gravestone in Sheffield was desecrated by thugs has branded those responsible ‘evil and sadistic’.
Noel Whiteley was horrified when he found the plot at City Road Cemetery, Sheffield – where his mum Margaret Ashton and two other members of his family are buried – had been attacked by yobs.
He had driven up from Norfolk to pay his respects to his mum a year after her death, but found an engraved brass plaque missing, while other items had been destroyed and scattered around the area.
Although Noel, who was born and brought up in Sheffield, said the items are of little monetary value, their sentimental worth makes them irreplaceable.
The 54-year-old said: “I’ve only just come to terms with what has happened. I just went to pay my respects and lay some fresh flowers on the first anniversary of her passing and found the brass plaque had been stolen and flowers and vases damaged.”
“It’s hard to put it into words. What kind of person could do this? They are evil, sadistic and hateful.
“Even as a child it would never have entered my mind to enter a graveyard and do something like this.”
Mrs Ashton died on Mother’s Day last year after a long illness. She is buried with her mother and father, Harold and Lily Ashton, as well as her brother, also called Harold, and his wife, Margaret Mather. Noel, who now lives in Great Yarmouth, said: “What they’ve taken is not worth a lot of money but they are very sentimental items.
“There are times in life when you don’t always get on with everyone, but stealing from someone’s grave is the last thing I would do.”
Now he is appealing for anyone who knows what happened to the plaque to get in touch. “If someone has seen it, or thinks they may know what happened to it then I ask them to contact me, even if they do so anonymously.”
Coun Isobel Bowler, cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure at Sheffield Council, said: “I am sorry Mrs Ashton’s family have suffered this upset and am saddened there are individuals who behave in this disrespectful way.
“It seems this is an isolated incident, but we are working closely with the police.”
* Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the plaque, which is brass and engraved with the name Margaret Rose Ashton, is asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call South Yorkshire Police on 101.