Grieving man sleeps guard by wife’s grave after attacks on loved ones’ plots in Sunderland cemetery

George Turnbull has taken to sleeping at his wife and parents' graves following grave theft
George Turnbull has taken to sleeping at his wife and parents' graves following grave theft

A grieving man has taken to sleeping by the graves of his loved ones in a bid to protect them from vandals.

George Turnbull is spending the nights in Castletown Cemetery after a series of attacks on the plots where his pregnant wife Beverley and his parents George and Catherine were laid to rest.

George Turnbull's wife and parents graves have been targeted by thieves at Castletown Cemetery. George with wife Beverly Thurnbull

George Turnbull's wife and parents graves have been targeted by thieves at Castletown Cemetery. George with wife Beverly Thurnbull

The former care worker, who had to give up his work due to an enlarged heart, made the decision to stay in the cemetery after the theft of items he has left in tribute.

Since the 60-year-old, from Red House, first spoke out about the attacks, he has arrived to find further incidents where the keepsakes he has laid have been moved.

He says damage has been caused in other areas of the cemetery, including the attempted theft of a bench by a man who turned up in a van, and thefts from other graves.

George, who lost his 52-year-old wife in September 2015, his father in June 2008 aged 76 and his mother, 77, on New Year’s Eve 2012, says his vigil will continue until further security measures are drafted in.

I just want my wife and baby to be left to rest in peace.

George Turnbull

He has been sleeping in his clothes at the site since the latest incident in the lead up to the weekend, but has been warned about the impact it could have on his health.

He said: “Somebody has to do something. I was put on this earth to look after my wife, children, my mam and dad.

“Just on Friday, I came and found someone left their calling card by moving ornaments around.

“Nothing is going to stop them unless someone is here and I think something needs to be said about it.

George Turnbull's wife and parents graves have been targeted by thieves at Castletown Cemetery. George's parents Catherine and George

George Turnbull's wife and parents graves have been targeted by thieves at Castletown Cemetery. George's parents Catherine and George

“I think there should be cameras put up with CCTV installed, but they’re not going to do that.

“They would be a deterrent for whoever’s doing this and keep them away.

“I just want my wife and baby to be left to rest in peace.

“I’ve been to see my heart surgeon and he is concerned and says I shouldn’t be sleeping outside.”

George Turnbull's wife and parents graves have been targeted by thieves at Castletown Cemetery

George Turnbull's wife and parents graves have been targeted by thieves at Castletown Cemetery

He added his thanks to family and friends who have given him support in the aftermath of his wife and parents’ deaths.

Northumbria Police has said it is continuing to carry out “regular and directed” patrols at the cemetery.

Sunderland City Council, which is responsible for the graveyard, has hit out at those who vandalise or carry out antisocial behaviour in cemeteries and has urged anything who has information about thefts or disorder to get in touch with its officers or the police as a matter of urgency,

Northumbria Police’s Sunderland North Neighbourhood Policing Team can be contacted on 101.