Vandals attack 12 year-old girl’s grave at Newstead Cemetery

Grave stones at Newstead Cemetery have been targeted by thieves. ''Pictured is the grave of Chloe Cotton.
Grave stones at Newstead Cemetery have been targeted by thieves. ''Pictured is the grave of Chloe Cotton.

A 12-YEAR-OLD girl’s grave at Newstead Cemetery has been attacked by vandals — just four months after it was targeted by thieves.

Ceramic figures were taken off a headstone for the youngster, Chloe Cotton, before being smashed into pieces and left on the ground.

More than £100 worth of damage was caused to the figures, which had just been replaced after the previous crime in June.

On that occasion a small number of trinkets and pictures were taken from Chloe’s grave, as well as from the adjacent gravestone of fellow cystic fibrosis sufferer Eliese Argyle, who was a friend of Chloe.

The shattered figures were a heartbreaking sight for Chloe’s parents, Jeremy and Michelle Cotton, when they visited the cemetery last weekend.

The damage is believed to have been committed on Friday night or the early hours of Saturday.

“Ours is not the only grave to be vandalised, but there seems to be a systematic violation of our late daughter’s grave and property,” said Mr Cotton.

“How much can you take when you are already devastated and struggling to come to terms with the loss of a loved one? It is unbelievably distressing for family members to keep experiencing something like this.”

Mr Cotton claimed that Newstead Parish Council, which is responsible for the cemetery, was only interested ‘if you place wind chimes on a tree there’, He thought that steps urgently needed to be taken to increase security of the site to avoid constant recurrences of such offences.

He stressed that the items placed on Chloe’s grave were ‘just tokens of love’ and not worth a lot to anyone except her family.

Mr Cotton said he and his wife had chosen Newstead Cemetery as the burial place for their daughter because members of his family lived in Newstead and other family members were interred in the cemetery.

“It always seemed a peaceful place but we are beginning to regret our choice, particularly after the latest vandalism,” he added.

The graves of Chloe and Eliese, who died at 17, suffered a similar fate last year. But Eliese’s family set up a surveillance camera and police managed to secure a conviction for the thefts.

It is especially heartrending that the burial places of two girls who died when they were so young have been subjected to such crimes.

Cystic fibrosis, from which Chloe and Eliese both suffered, is one of the UK’s most common life-threatening diseases. It is caused by a faulty gene that controls the movement of salt and water in and out of the cells within the body.

Sufferers find it hard to breathe or digest food and more than 9,000 people across the UK have the disease.

The parish council chairman, Coun Trish Wise, said she was ‘very disturbed’ to hear about such offences in the cemetery.

She stressed that thefts and vandal attacks at the site were ‘totally unacceptable’ and she could not imagine why anyone should want to commit such mindless acts.

But Coun Wise added that the location of the cemetery meant that the site could not be secured. “It is a big problem and one we are very well aware of,” she pointed out.

A Nottinghamshire Police spokesman said such offences were ‘particularly insensitive and disrespectful’. He added that an investigation had been launched into the vandal attack.

After the the trinkets were stolen from Chloe’s grave in June, a man was arrested and bailed on suspicion of the offence but he was afterwards with released with no further action taken.

Anyone with information about the latest vandalism or the theft in June is asked to contact Nottinghamshire Police on 101 or the free and confidential Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.