vandals have daubed white paint over the £2,000 headstone of a much-loved mum and grandmother.
Nicola Patterson was shocked when a stranger came to her home to say that the headstone on her mum Nancy Hughes’s grave, in Bishopwearmouth Cemetery, near Hylton Road, had been damaged.
Mrs Hughes died aged 53 in June last year after suffering liver failure.
The vandalism has caused fresh heartache for Mrs Patterson and her family, who are only now coming to terms with losing Mrs Hughes.
Mrs Patterson, of Red House, had to save up £2,000 over six months to buy the headstone and today said she was “disgusted” by the actions of the vandals as well as mystified as to why her mum’s monument was damaged.
The headstone has only been in place since January.
“My mam was well-loved all over, so I don’t understand why it has happened,” said the 33-year-old, who is mum to Holly, 16, and Leon, four.
“She didn’t have a bad bone in her body.”
Mrs Patterson says she usually goes to tend to her mum’s grave each day but was unable to because of work commitments the day the vandalism is thought to have happened.
“I was at work all day so I didn’t get to the cemetery,” she said.
“A woman who looks after one of her relative’s plots a couple of graves down knocked on my door asking if it was my mam’s headstone.
“I couldn’t believe what she told me.
“The paint was all over the gold letters on the stone and her purple flowers too. It’s heartbreaking.” Mrs Patterson has now managed to clean the paint off the headstone.
Mrs Patterson, who is married to Keith, a self-employed car painter, added: “It’s an absolute disgrace and very disrespectful to me and my family.
“I’ve searched the graveyard and I can’t find anything like paint tins, so I don’t think anyone else’s grave has been vandalised.”
The vandalism is believed to have happened sometime between 2pm on Saturday and 3pm on Sunday.
Police officers are now calling for witnesses to come forward and are also examining CCTV footage at the cemetery to see if they can identify those responsible.
Neighbourhood Inspector Dave Pickett said: “Mindless damage like this causes lots of distress to the victims and there is no place for it in our communities.
“If anyone has any information as to who is responsible then I’d urge them to get in touch.”
Anyone with information should contact Northumbria Police on 101 ext 69191.