Grieving mum’s devastation over grave theft

Katie Cook
Katie Cook

A grieving mother has spoken of her devastation after thieves stole from her daughter’s grave.

Diane Cook, of Chiltern Drive, went to Hastings Cemetery on The Ridge on Sunday (October 12) and discovered a ceramic butterfly on Katie Cook’s grave was missing.

She branded the thieves ‘low-lifes’ and is calling for more security in the cemetery to deter theft.

Earlier this month, the Observer reported on the theft of granite kerbstones from the borders of another grave, that of George Ernest Taylor.

His son John Nicholls, a retired chartered surveyor from Cuffley near Potters Bar, Hertfordshire made the discovery at Hastings Cemetery.

Katie was 11 when she died in July 2008 after falling off her bike in a freak accident. The Sandown School pupil was enjoying a day out at Bewl Water with her family when tragedy struck. She hit her chest on the bike’s handle bars and the force of the blow caused her to suffer liver failure.

Her mum said: “Katie’s auntie bought the ceramic butterfly for her grave because she loved butterflies. I went to the cemetery on Sunday and discovered some low-life had taken it. I was devastated as this is a case of stealing from a child’s grave. Why should these thieving low-lifes get away with it? The ceramic butterfly had only been there for a few weeks.

“This is the second time items have been stolen from Katie. Two weeks after we buried her solar lights shaped like tulips were taken. We placed them at her grave because Katie was scared of the dark. Katie would have been 18 on September 4 this year.”

Hastings Cemetery is owned by the borough council and maintained by its contractors, The Landscape Group.

Mrs Cook added: “I’ve spoken to the people down at the cemetery about CCTV cameras being put there. I heard it would cost too much money but more security is needed, especially where the children’s graves are. Cameras would help deter thieves.”

Nigel Jarrett, spokesman for Sussex Police, said: “We received a report from a woman who had visited her daughter’s grave in Hastings Cemetery and found that a ceramic butterfly, placed there as a tribute by an aunt, had been stolen. It was the second time the grave had been disturbed, with a previous theft reported in 2008.” Anyone who saw anything suspicious or who may have other information is asked to email or phone 101, quoting serial 417 of 13/10. Alternatively they can call the independent charity Crimestoppers free and anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Kevin Boorman, spokesman for Hastings Borough Council, said: “The theft was reported to us on Monday. We are very sad that graves in the cemetery have been interfered with. A cemetery should be a place of respect. We are considering how security may be improved. However, with an 87-acre site that is always going to be a problem.”