Outrage after thieves raid daughter's grave

PUBLISHED: 06:21 09 November 2006 | UPDATED: 09:58 31 May 2010

Cilla’s gravestone – Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

Cilla's gravestone - Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

AN ELDERLY couple who lost their daughter to cancer in May have been left devastated after mindless thieves stole a cross and a vase from her grave. Ian and Hettie Cains, of Saffron Walden, discovered the heartless act when they visited the town s Radwint

Ian Caines with Cilla on her wedding day

AN ELDERLY couple who lost their daughter to cancer in May have been left devastated after mindless thieves stole a cross and a vase from her grave.

Ian and Hettie Cains, of Saffron Walden, discovered the heartless act when they visited the town's Radwinter Road cemetery on Saturday morning.

Their daughter, Cilla Cooper, passed away at the age of 49 after battling cancer for two years, and the couple were distraught when they noticed the theft, which occurred between October 31 and November 4.

Mr Cains, 79, who has lived in the town all his life, said: "We always go and visit the grave three times a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, but we didn't go last Thursday as it was too frosty.

"As soon as we parked up on Saturday, I said to my dear lady that the grave looked different and we were left totally shocked and devastated when we approached and saw the cross and the vase with roses in it were gone.

"We looked all over the cemetery, but couldn't find them. It really is absolute nastiness and I cannot think why anybody would want to do this."

Mr Cains said their daughter, whose husband Mo also lives in Saffron Walden, was a much-loved person.

"Cilla was incredibly well-liked and we feel so cross and hurt that these people have carried out such a horrible act," he said. "Mo is also very upset and we all hope that the police can catch those responsible and the cross and vase can be returned to us."

He added life has been very unkind to the family, having also lost one of their four sons, Paul, to a burst ulcer at the age of 42.

"It was a tragedy to watch the cancer spread through Cilla's body and she had to have a leg amputated, but she battled very bravely against it," he said.

"Life has not been easy for us, losing two of our children, and this incident has been an absolute nightmare that we could have done without."

The Rev Canon Duncan Green of St Mary's Parish Church said: "It was a despicable act and it's really the last thing any family needs at a time when they are grieving and coming to terms with their loss.

"We are very fortunate in the town that incidents like this are very rare and I can't remember anything similar in recent times."

Saffron Walden police Sgt Ashley Seymour said the theft was shocking.

"This is an extremely distasteful incident and we want to hear from anyone with any information, which would lead us to the culprits and the recovery of the stolen property," he said.

"Although it was a minor theft, with the cross being worth £45 and the vase valued at £5, it was exceedingly unpleasant in its nature."

Anybody with information should contact PC Nadine Harrington on 01799 513232.

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