Mum brands vandals who smashed her baby's grave 'sick and twisted'
A MOTHER has described as "sick and twisted" the vandals who ripped out her baby's gravestone.
As reported in yesterday's Herald, vandals have left a trail of damage in Efford Cemetery.
Katie Elliott, pictured right, wept at the side of her daughter Chloe's grave yesterday, surrounded by the wreckage of gifts, flowers and tributes which had been left to the 15-month-old.
The gravestone, a double heart-shape made from black marble, lay broken on top of a neighbouring grave, with a footprint mark clearly visible.
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Katie, 22, only found out about the damage from a friend who saw the front page report in yesterday's Herald.
"I'm so angry I want to dig up my daughter and take her home," said Katie, who lost her girl four years ago to a rare disease.
"I cannot imagine who would do this – they must be sick and twisted.
"This has hurt me so much and I just want whoever has done it to get caught," Katie said.
Katie was comforted by her mother and grandmother during the heartbreaking visit to the grave yesterday.
Six graves in the cemetery were targeted, Plymouth City Council said.
Ornaments were smashed and headstones left loose and marked with muddy footprints where it appeared they had been kicked in the trail of destruction.
"You don't think people like that could exist," said Katie, who has since had a nine-month-old baby, Mia.
The Barbican mother had just returned from a five-day holiday in Dawlish with her family when she heard the news.
Her mother, Teresa Parkinson, said: "It makes us want to come and camp here to catch whoever did it. They're sick."
Katie said she visited the grave every week and decorated it for all occasions.
Chloe would have celebrated her fifth birthday less than two weeks ago so the burial place was adorned with a Happy Birthday banner, cards, balloons and tokens such as a flower butterfly and a china angel.
But they all lay strewn about, with the butterfly torn in half and a smashed lantern stolen from another child's grave.
Katie said she had suffered depression since Chloe's death and was just lifting herself out of it through counselling.
But she says news of this vandalism had set her back to square one.
"This has torn me apart. I was just getting on with life but now I come and find this. I just don't understand why it has been my daughter's grave that has been targeted."
She is now worried about how the damage caused to the gravestone will be paid for.
The area was taped off so the police could carry out enquiries.
Plymouth City Council reassured anyone worried about the condition of memorials and headstones at Efford Cemetery that this "terrible vandalism attack" was isolated to one area.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the police on 101, quoting crime reference EC/12/9516.
Alternatively, witnesses can call Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555111.
The rare disease that took Chloe's life
CHLOE was born in September 2007 and was just 15 months old when she died at Derriford Hospital.
She had suffered a very rare disease known as GM1 gangliosidoses which affects the acidic lipid materials in cells and affects the nervous system.
Katie was told Chloe had the disease when she was just six weeks old and her condition deteriorated from there.
The little girl was described as a "lovely baby" by Katie who said that even though Chloe couldn't sit up and had to be fed through a tube she was always "happy".
"Chloe was in and out of hospital," said Katie.
"On December 18 she had trouble breathing and we were told she had just 24 hours to live. She passed away on December 19, 2008." Katie has struggled with the loss of her daughter and has battled depression, taking weekly visits to her daughter's grave. She now has a healthy nine-month-old called Mia but "will never forget" her first child.