The grave of the dad of a notorious Sunderland gangster has been damaged in what his family believe to be a retaliation attack.
The loved ones of Alan Smart Senior have been left horrified after his headstone was smashed by vandals, removing a picture of Alan which was on the grave in the process.
He passed away in 2002 aged just 42 and is buried in a cemetery, in Ryhope Road, in the Grangetown area.
Alan’s son, also called Alan, was earlier this year sentenced to life in prison for carrying out arson attacks at the home of a man he was trying to recover a drugs debt from.
Police have today confirmed they are aware of the vandalism after it was reported to officers over the weekend.
It is not exactly when the vandalism took place.
Alan Senior’s brother Jimmy, 68, has spoken of his fury at the desecration and has suggested that it has been carried out to upset Alan Junior while he is behind bars.
“The people who’ve done this are vermin, they are sewer rats,” said Jimmy, who lives in Hendon.
“They are nothing more than cowards and they’ve left some of our family too upset to speak about it.
“None of what’s gone on has got anything to do with my brother because he died more than 15 years ago now.
“It must be to do with Alan Junior and what’s gone on with him.”
Speaking about the damage, Jimmy said: “They’ve smashed the whole corner off with his photo and took it with them too.
In a trial lasting five weeks at Teesside Crown Court earlier this year, a jury heard Alan Smart Junior, who had been recruited by a significant drug dealer to recover debts, set fire to a car and the front door of a house in Seaham.
A second fire at another address in Seaham caused damage which cost more than £60,000 to repair.
Smart, 39, of Shrewsbury Crescent, Humbledon, Sunderland, denied arson on December 23 and 24, both 2011, and he denied arson with intent to endanger life on April 29, 2012.
Judge Deborah Sherwin sentenced Smart to life imprisonment with a minimum tariff of seven-and-a-half years.
She told Smart: “You were an underworld enforcer who used fire as one of your weapons.
“You were on bail for the first two fires when you started the third, which demonstrates you thought you were untouchable.”
Following his conviction, Detective Inspector Dave English of Northumbria Police described Alan Smart Junior as someone who had “terrorised people, communities, and companies on Wearside and Tyneside for more than two decades”.
“He was like the Teflon Don, and thought he was untouchable.
“A number of prosecutions against him over the years could not succeed due to witness difficulties.
“Even hardened, organised, criminals were frightened of him.
“That he is now starting a life sentence, and will be on licence for life whenever he is released, shows that he is not untouchable.”
A spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said: “At 4pm on Saturday, November 24, police received a report of damage to a grave at Sunderland Cemetery in Ryhope Road.
“Enquiries are ongoing and anyone with information which could assist officers is asked to contact police on 101 quoting reference 717 24/11/18 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”