A MOTHER whose son’s grave has been vandalised several times in the last few months has said the people responsible “should be ashamed of themselves”.

Claire Ridgers, whose son Leo passed away in 2017 whilst she was pregnant with him, has said she was shocked when she first found the items left on the grave missing back in October.

She said that Leo’s resting place, in Worting Road cemetery had been re-arranged, with toys and teddy bears left there taken, whilst lights on the grave had been smashed.

Since then, Leo’s grave has been vandalised seven or eight times, and she is worried that she may need to exhume his coffin if his grave continues to be targeted.

“I was really upset and shocked, I was surprised that anybody would be that vile to do that,” Claire said.

“Why would you want to cause upset and distress to somebody?

“Now every time we come here, we’re in fear of what we’re going to find next. Before it was just the changing of stuff, now it’s been the vandalism. They’ve stepped it up so what’s going to happen next?

“I don’t want to have to have him moved to somewhere else, why should I have to do that? He’s here for a reason.”

Claire says she made an effort to make the grave look nice, with fairy lights, Thomas the Tank Engine toys and teddy bears dotted around the grave.

However, the police have since advised her to take this off, mean the grave is now empty, bar a notice asking the perpetrators to stop and anyone that sees anything to report it.

It has also meant that Leo’s two younger brothers, 17-month-old Oscar and 6-month-old Theodore, can’t visit the grave.

“You would think who would want to do that anyway, but to do it to a child’s grave who’s innocent. The worst part is that we don’t know who it is or why,” she continues.

“His brothers are unable to attend because of what we may possibly find when we come here. Obviously it will be distressing for them if they see me upset.”

Claire said that Leo was a “miracle”, and that he was conceived after seven years of trying and three failed attempts at IVF.

“Unfortunately, the baby that we thought we was going to have wasn’t meant to be.”

If she found the people responsible, Claire would ask them: “Why would you need to do it? Put yourself in my situation, imagine having a child and that child not being here, and then coming to their resting place to find that somebody has vandalised it or is interfering with it.

“They should be ashamed of themselves.

“If anybody sees anything that they think is suspicious, or they see something that they don’t think is right, report it. Because then we could build up a case and find out who it is.”

Cllr Hayley Eachus said Basingstoke Deane and Borough Council will increase patrols as a result of the news.

The cabinet member for environment and enforcement said: “It is extremely upsetting and very disappointing for families when graves are damaged or items moved. We are aware of the incidents and have reported them to the police and our own Community Safety Patrol Officers who are increasing patrols in the area."

She added: "We lock the gates to the cemetery at night and our cemetery staff remain vigilant to this anti-social and distressing behaviour. We will continue to work with the police and appeal to people who may witness incidents at the cemetery to report them to 101.”