Vandals add to grieving mother's anguish

NEIL RATLEY AND ALANA DIXON
Last updated 05:00 29/05/2012
Grieving mother Trish Samson sits at her son Jacob's grave.
DOUG FIELD/Fairfax NZ

CRUEL BLOW: Grieving mother Trish Samson sits at her son Jacob's grave. Mrs Samson says the grave has been a target for vandals.

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Trish Samson lost her son Jacob five years ago but the pain of that loss is not getting any easier with the passing of time.

Especially as someone keeps vandalising her son's grave.

The grieving mother just wants it to stop.

Soon after her son was buried in March 2007, the cross on his grave was broken and trinkets and personal belongings thrown around, Ms Samson said.

"In the second year, the cross was burnt and it looked like someone had tried digging up the grave."

The vandalism stopped for a few years, but it had since restarted, she said.

"I have no idea why they are doing this," Ms Samson said.

"Jacob had his sins, but who doesn't.

"He was chasing the dream of being in a gang before he died but they have told me the vandalism is not to do with them.

"I just wish whoever is responsible would leave us alone."

The anguish felt by Ms Samson is one that another mother has also experienced after burying her baby girl in Edendale cemetery.

Dae-Maree Batchelor said after laying her daughter to rest, gifts and mementos placed on the grave had been removed.

"My two children and many others have given gifts and left special mementos at her grave," she said.

"Many of these have been very special and symbolic and now, in the small space of three to four weeks, many of these items have been taken and stolen from our precious angel.

"It breaks my heart to think someone out there now has a piece of what should only be ours to have to keep the memory of our daughter alive."

Invercargill City Council parks officer Heather Guise said vandalism and disturbances of graves were encountered by the council.

"It goes in cycles, with times when there is a problem and at other times there are no reports of vandalism," she said.

The introduction of a bylaw to change opening times for cemeteries and prohibit alcohol had helped reduce vandalism, Ms Guise said.

Meanwhile, the Tuatapere Cemetery Trust has branded thieves who stole its maintenance equipment last week as despicable.

Among the items taken were a John Deere 455 lawn tractor fitted with a 60H mower deck, a John Deere manual tilt trailer, and a Masport petrol push-mower.

Tuatapere Cemetery Trust chairman John Knowler said the theft was despicable: "It's about as low as you can go."

Constable Damon Templeton said the equipment was taken from a storage shed last week after a lock was smashed to gain entry.

While the trust was insured, there was likely to be a big difference between their payout and the cost of replacing the equipment.

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