A FAMILY was left distraught after vandals damaged a stillborn baby’s grave just weeks before the fifth anniversary of his death.

Mother Joanne Andrews was devastated to discover that the headstone and commemorative ornaments had disappeared from the grave of her son, Sebastian Kaleb, at Barnard Castle cemetery, earlier this month.

The infant was stillborn at 34 weeks into Mrs Andrews’ pregnancy, on August 6, 2009.

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The headstone, which had been dug up with its concrete base, was found discarded and damaged in some grass and nettles behind a nearby wall, along with a concrete angel and a couple of other smashed ornaments.

A concrete heart with an inscription on the back remains missing.

It is thought the crime occurred sometime between Friday, July 11, and Wednesday, July 16.

Mrs Andrews now lives in Greatham, near Hartlepool, with her husband, Elliot and their other two children, Ruby, aged six, and Luke, aged one, but regularly visits Sebastian’s grave in Barnard Castle.

She said: “I went up there to lay some flowers and saw that everything was gone except for a little blue vase.

“I broke down in tears.

“Everything had been picked up and chucked over the wall.

“It was heartbreaking and so random.

“I couldn’t understand how anyone could have the mentality to do that.

“Why would they disturb a baby’s final resting place?”

Mrs Andrews thanked local stonemason Adrian Morgan Hopper, who volunteered to repair the headstone free of charge as a gesture of goodwill after hearing of the incident.

She said: “I don’t know him and he doesn’t know me, but I cannot thank him enough.”

Police are investigating the incident and Sergeant Simon Rogers, from Barnard Castle Police, said: “This is a very distressing crime for the family and a very unusual crime for this area.

“I would appeal to anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious around the time it occurred, or who knows of those responsible, to contact police.”

Call the Barnard Castle and Teesdale Neighbourhood Policing Team, on 101, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800-555-111.