Net closing on cemetery vandals

By IH Friday 25 January 2013 Updated: 30/01 10:04

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Buy photos » Coun Chris Wall, Chairman of Stratford Cemetery Committee, and Mayor Keith Lloyd inspect the damage. Picture by Jon Mullis 50.012.021.strat.jm2 (www.buyphotos247.com)

THE NET looks to be closing in on vandals who ran amok in Stratford Cemetery causing damage estimated at £100,000.

Mayor of Stratford Keith Lloyd called for the yobs responsible to be named and shamed following the attack in the early hours of Saturday morning December 9. Eleven graves were targeted in the old section of the Evesham Road cemetery, together with the memorial to Victorian novelist Marie Corelli, who lived in the town in her later years.

And Coun Lloyd could get his wish with police this week reporting they had identified suspects and that investigations were on-going.

Stratford District Council was given the news at meeting on Tuesday (January 23).

Coun Lloyd said: "I am pleased and relieved that it looks like these vile culprits will be brought to justice. I sincerely hope that their punishment will be as severe as possible due to this horrendous act of desecration they have committed.

"The courts must treat this crime very seriously due to sensitive issues to families who have loved ones buried in our cemetery, and also as an example to prevent this from happening again."

Local stonemason Stuart Clifford has already generously offered to make safe the damaged memorials free of charge, except for the Marie Corelli memorial which was so badly damaged it had to be removed to storage straight after the attack as it was a health and safety hazard.

The total repair bill for the sculpture is likely to be around £15,000, and the repair work would need to be carried out by experts in Italy.

The town council is hoping the Marie Corelli Society or another historical organisation may launch an appeal to fund the restoration of the memorial.

The council is also looking to step up security at the cemetery and is planning to install CCTV cameras and security lighting, in and around the chapel, at a cost of £2,500.

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