Grafton family devastated by 'terrible, senseless act'
A FAMILY has been left devastated after vandals destroyed a headstone belonging to their four-year-old brother.
Siblings Julene and Trevor Want were devastated to discover the headstone of their four-year-old brother Barry was one of 40 graves damaged by what police described as a "disgraceful, low and sickening act."
The family, who have links to the Clarence Valley as far back as the mid-1850s are urging anyone with information about the incident at Grafton Cemetery last week to come forward.
Ms Want said when Barry died after contracting diphtheria in 1939, his death left a big mark on her parents Sidney and Elma, who bought a "a beautiful marble headstone" with a distinct oval shape, despite not having much money.
That headstone was later moved to the end of Elma's grave when she was buried above her son and next to husband Sidney in 2007.
"I just couldn't believe it, this gravestone has stood in place for 80 years and nobody has touched it," Julene said.
"It has been terribly upsetting for the family."
Ms Want said the damage was a blow for the whole community who not only had to live with the destruction, but who had lost a valuable resource for future generations.
"It's more than an attack on the concrete and stones, it is an attack on our heritage," she said.
"Memories don't die when you die, they are carried on by the families and ancestors.
"It damages the sanctuary of the place too - it is lovely old cemetery there and I think coming in and doing that kind of thing it really upsets the serenity of the place."
Fortunately the headstone was not beyond repair and Mr Want collected the pieces and took them to his son Kim in an effort to salvage the headstone.
Kim was working hard to restore it by fixing it to a backing board, and had visited the site to find missing pieces.
"It was a terrible senseless act of vandalism and it is very hard for us to comprehend why people would do that sort of thing," Mr Want said.
"We are really devastated about it. That headstone has been there for more than 80 years, untouched, it is a very sad occasion."
Mr Want said judging by the position of the smashed headstone the vandals had picked it up, carried it several metres and dropped it on top of the headstone of another deceased childs grave.
The family are hoping that by speaking up about the effect the damage had had, they could convince someone who might know something about it to come forward.
"I would like to think that the people responsible would have to face somebody," Ms Want said.
"I feel as though we are a victim of a crime and they should have to face the families that have been traumatised by the event."
The destruction is thought to have occurred some time before the morning of June 15 and anyone with information is urged to contact Grafton police on 66420222 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 and quote reference number E7688 6951.