A mother has said that she was left ‘completely devastated’ after sentimental items from her stillborn baby’s grave were removed and thrown into a plastic bag.
Slapton mum Amy Kennedy, was horrified when she went to visit her son Riley’s grave at Carpenders Park Cemetery, Watford, last week – after finding that workmen had stripped it of toys and ornaments she lovingly placed there.
The items were put into a plastic bag and piled on the edge of the cemetery with possessions from other children’s graves.
Brent Council says it took the decision to remove items from plots as “graves can only be marked with a flat-lying plaque or stone”.
Amy told the LBO that she was given no warning her son Riley’s grave would be “trashed”.
The 25-year-old said: “We were completely devastated with what had happened.
“We went out to the back of the yard and there were plastic bags with numbers on them.
“I only knew which was mine as I knew my son’s plot number.
“I felt very violated, no-one should touch that stuff apart from me and nobody should touch the ground, which I had to purchase.”
She added: “I spoke to a worker about it and he said ‘It is my job and I had to do it, I have got children to feed’.
“I said to him that he is very lucky to have children that he can look after.
“I don’t have birthdays or Christmas with Riley so this is my way of spending time with him.”
Riley’s younger brother Jayden, 3, was with Amy when the harrowing discovery was made.
Among the items missing from the grave were toy cars Jayden bought for his brother.
Amy said: “It is difficult enough having to explain why his brother is there in the first place without having to go through why the toys have been taken away.
“It has been emotionally distressing for both me and Jayden.
“I will do everything I can to keep Riley’s memory alive, he won’t be forgotten and within reason I should be able to put what I like on his grave.”
Brent Council has apologised to Amy and other families, but asserted that rules prevent keepsakes from being placed on plots.
In a statement councillor Eleanor Southwood, cabinet member for cemeteries, said: “When Brent Council bought the land for Carpenders Park Cemetery several decades ago, one of the terms of the sale was that the cemetery must only specifically be used as a lawn cemetery.
“This means that after a burial takes place, the ground must be returned back to lawn and graves can only be marked with a flat-lying plaque or stone.
“We do our best to make this as clear as possible when graves are purchased and we write to owners and put up signs in the cemetery, before this work of removing items and the relaying of graves to lawn is carried out, to help ensure the situation is handled as delicately as possible.”
Cllr Southwood added: “Our contractors also retain grave items in the cemetery for a period after they are removed, so that they can be collected by relatives.
“We appreciate that losing a loved one is the most difficult thing for anyone to deal with and we apologise whole-heartedly for any additional distress that this work may have caused.”