Grave desecration leaves family devastated

PUBLISHED: 16:37 24 September 2008 | UPDATED: 21:34 31 May 2010

Headstone for Lisa Jane Pledger.
Saffron Walden Cememtary.
September 23, 2008.
Photoraph by Michael Boyton.
Pic shows: The headstone and accompanying trinkets.

Headstone for Lisa Jane Pledger. Saffron Walden Cememtary. September 23, 2008. Photoraph by Michael Boyton. Pic shows: The headstone and accompanying trinkets.

A WOMAN was left distraught after the graves of her family were targeted by vandals for the second time in the space of four months. Emotional Ann Pledger, 52, said she felt angry and upset following the latest desecration of her daughter and sister s g

A WOMAN was left distraught after the graves of her family were targeted by vandals for the second time in the space of four months.

Emotional Ann Pledger, 52, said she felt "angry and upset" following the latest desecration of her daughter and sister's graves on Saturday.

"I just can't believe that someone would do this," said Mrs Pledger, who lives on Little Walden Road, Saffron Walden. "The whole family is devastated."

Mrs Pledger's daughter, Lisa Pledger, and her sister Valarie Baxter are buried at Saffron Walden Cemetery on Radwinter Road. Their graves were first vandalised in June when a number of sentimental items that decorated the headstones were broken or stolen.

"My daughter Lisa had loved animals and just before she died she had bought a Golden Macaw," said Mrs Pledger. "In her memory, my son had bought an ornamental parrot to put on her grave, but it was smashed at the end of June.

"I looked everywhere for a replacement bird, but I couldn't find one. In the end I found a bird that was the right colour to put on her grave. I was shocked when it was broken again."

Lisa was 23 years old when she died of a blood clot seven years ago. Mrs Baxter used to tend the grave every day, but recent ill health forced her to cut back on her trips to the cemetery. Valarie died two years ago.

In the second attack, as well as the replacement parrot being cracked, figures of cherubs and angels that adorned Lisa's grave were smashed. Sola lights that surrounded Valarie's grave were broken, a lantern has been stolen and flowers and a vase have been thrown around.

"It's not the value of the items that are broken that matters," said Mrs Pledger. "It's the emotional upset of seeing your family members' graves treated like this.

"It's even more difficult to understand because I think they were the only two graves in the cemetery that were attacked. I think it is someone who knows us because the graves are not close to each other and the surnames are different so you wouldn't know they were from the same family."

Mrs Pledger is married to Anthony Pledger, 59, and they have three children and eight grandchildren.

"I am really worried that this will happen again and the headstones will be damaged," said Mrs Pledger. "I just want to know who is behind it and why."

Police are appealing for anyone with information about the vandalism to contact PC Alan Hodgetts at Saffron Walden Police Station on 0300 333 4444.

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