Memorial stone stolen from grave
VANDALS in Bampton have been condemned for desecrating the grave of a cancer victim after it was visited by her widower on the fourth anniversary of her death.
Colin Hines, 74, regularly makes a 150-mile round-trip from Plymouth to St Michael's Church to visit the resting place of his wife Joan, who died at the age of 72 on September 1, 2009.
He was left heartbroken during his latest visit after he discovered her memorial stone had been stolen and a vase thrown in a hedge.
Mr Hines, from Estover, near Plymouth, said: "I bought a bible made out of china two and a half years ago but that got damaged, and then I bought another one but when I went there on September 1, it had gone.
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"I didn't know what to do. I had a look around the graveyard and a vase, which was used to put flowers in, I found had been chucked in the hedge.
"I usually go every six weeks and I always take roses with me. I even went there when the grave was covered in four inches of snow."
Mr Hines, who met Joan in 1956, married her in the same year at St Michael's Church.
Colin, who has a background in the hospitality industry, is originally from Taunton and Joan worked as a nurse at the town's Musgrove Park Hospital.
He said it was his wife's wish to have her ashes placed at the grave of her parents Fred and Edith Coles. The discovery was reported to police and beat manager for the town, PC Tim Soper, who is based in Tiverton, hopes nearby residents may be able to shed some light on the incident. The stolen item has been described as a black pottery open bible memorial stone, measuring 16in by 18in, with 'to my darling wife – Colin' in gold lettering.
But PC Soper said the incident would have happened anywhere between May and September.
"It is just a despicable crime," PC Soper said.
"I have no idea why it was taken and it is so recognisable. There might be a market for it, but I don't know of one, and it did not contain any metal so it just seems like wanton vandalism and it is beyond belief.
"It is very strange really and there are no more lines of enquiry.
"Hopefully somebody with a conscious who knows something will come forward."
Contact police with information on 101 quoting crime reference KT/13/1478.