Families’ revulsion at thefts from their loved ones’ graves

Lisa McMichael, step-grandmother of Riley, and Sheila and Trevor Fairhurst at the graves in Hindley Cemetery
Lisa McMichael, step-grandmother of Riley, and Sheila and Trevor Fairhurst at the graves in Hindley Cemetery

RELATIVES have spoken of their “utter disgust” at the desecration of two young Wiganers’ graves.

Intruders stole solar lamps decorating the final resting places of baby Riley McMichael and domestic violence victim Carly Fairhurst which are side by side at Hindley’s Castle Hill Cemetery.

Riley McMichael

Riley McMichael

Their families have got to know each other, with each buying items for both graves, including the lamps. It was Riley’s grandfather Brian, 42, who found they had gone when he visited the cemetery a week last Sunday. Police are investigating.

Carly’s parents Trevor and Sheila had been upset enough before this episode because tomorrow sees the latest parole hearing for her killer Darren Pilkington.

It piles on the heartache too for the McMichael family of Lincoln Road, Hindley. Riley died in mother Jessica’s arms in April 2103 after Alder Hey Hospital doctors told her there was nothing else that could be done for him. The tot had appeared well at birth but 24 hours later developed breathing difficulties and thereafter his condition deteriorated to the point that medics persuaded the family to turn off his life support machine. Jessica was given her one and only chance to change him while staff hand-vented him before he died.

Sadly this is not the first time little Riley’s grave has been desecrated either. On what would have been his first birthday, family attached balloons to the grave only to return later to find the strings had been cut so they flew away.

Not that it should make a difference, but there are pictures of Riley and Carly on the headstones so the thieves knew who they were stealing from. We were utterly disgusted at this crime

Trevor Fairhurst

Riley’s step-grandma Lisa said: “I just want the people who do these things to realise just how much upset it causes. It’s bad enough that it is Riley’s second birthday this week without these thefts. My step-daughter feels she cannot buy things to put on his grave now because it is so upsetting when they disappear. It had been a place she liked to go to be with her child.”

Trevor, of Park Road, Hindley, bought stone plaques bearing Carly and Riley’s names and the McMichaels reciprocated with two lamps on each grave. They were silver poles with frosted glass tops whose lights changed colour in the dark.

Trevor said: “Not that it should make a difference, but there are pictures of Riley and Carly on the headstones so the thieves knew who they were stealing from. We were utterly disgusted at this crime.”

Both families say they would like to see CCTV installed while recognising it is unlikely in the current economic climate. But Lisa added: “You really shouldn’t need cameras. Any self-respecting human being would never dream of stealing from graves, let alone those of tiny babies and crime victims.”

Carly Fairhurst

Carly Fairhurst

A Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust spokesman said: “It is always disappointing to hear of incidents like this and our sympathies lie with the family as this must be distressing. We do discourage people from leaving additional memorials at headstones on lawned cemeteries like the one at Hindley, as it is difficult to secure them and we obviously don’t want grieving families to experience their property being damaged or stolen. We do lock cemeteries overnight.

“Anyone witnessing or wanting to report any incidents of theft at any of our cemeteries should contact the police and request a log number in the first instance. We are also interested in any incidents and you can inform us on 01942 828993.

“We have considered the use of CCTV but due to the nature of cemeteries and the available lighting, unfortunately the captured images would be ineffective.”

A police spokesman confirmed that the “descpicable” theft took place at some point between the afternoons of March 7 and 8 and appealed for anyone with information to contact officers on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.