Police have vowed to bring those responsible to justice after grieving parents discovered sickening damage to graves in a children’s cemetery in Sunderland.
Families were left heartbroken after vandals struck in the baby garden at Bishopwearmouth Cemetery, in Chester Road, at the weekend.
Pictures have been shared on social media showing mementos including teddy bears scattered across plots and statues knocked over.
Northumbria Police said they were informed of the damage on Sunday night.
Neighbourhood Sergeant Phil Baker said: “This mindless damage has caused unnecessary distress to the family of those involved who have not only suffered the tragic loss of a loved one but now the added worry and cost of restoring their resting place.
“I would like to extend my utmost condolences to the families who have been affected and let them know we will do all we can to find those responsible, and I would urge anyone who has any information to get in contact with us.
“Officers will be on patrol throughout the cemetery to help prevent any further offences and try to identify those involved.”
Anyone with information should contact Northumbria Police on 101, quoting reference 949 of 220517 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Angi Barnett, whose son Darren John Mason, is buried in the cemetery, was among the plots that have been vandalised.
Angi said: “It’s really upsetting. My son was stillborn and died 22 years ago.
“It is a long time ago but he is still my son. It is heartbreaking that these vile creatures out there can go out and do things like this.
“All the other mothers and fathers who have lost kids shouldn’t have to see such things like this.”
She called on Sunderland City Council to do more to monitor and protect the cemetery.
Kati Bohill, secretary of the Friends of Bishopwearmouth Baby Garden group, said: “It’s horrible.
“It is not just the parents who are affected, it is their siblings, grandparents, aunties and uncles and godparents.
“To wilfully smash and damage things in such a sensitive area is completely heartless.
“It is just totally uncalled for. You can imagine the level of distress it has caused.
“People are rushing down. You have a sick feeling in your stomach thinking what are you going to have to deal with.”
The police have been informed.
Kati estimated up to a quarter of the plots have been affected in some way. A smaller number of adult plots in the cemetery are also said to have suffered some damage.