A GRIEVING family has hit out at thieves who have repeatedly stolen items left on a baby's grave.

Sue and Leslie Robinson said they had complained four times to authorities at Stranton Grange Cemetery, in Hartlepool, after cuddly toys and ornaments were taken.

Their grandson, Terence, was stillborn seven weeks prematurely at the end of July, only hours after his mother, Katrina Robinson, had been jailed for assault.

The family blamed the stress of the ordeal for the baby boy's death. An appeal hearing will be held in London next Monday against Ms Robinson's 15-month sentence.

But in the meantime, they appealed for whoever was taking the items to stop.

Mother-of-six Sue, 41, of Thornton Street, Hartlepool, said: "We go to the cemetery every Sunday and always take things to put on Terry's grave, but so many things have gone missing - it's disgraceful.

"Teddy bears, angels and even a dumper truck have gone missing. Some items were even pegged in the ground. How can anyone take things from a baby's grave? There has to be some respect."

A spokesman for Hartlepool Borough Council said the cemetery was manned by staff during weekdays and security staff were on patrol at weekends and into the night. He said the gates were locked each evening and children were not allowed to play in the area. He added: "We sympathise with the family and we condemn who ever is behind this mindless activity."

Heavily pregnant Ms Robinson, 20, and her then boyfriend, Terence Rowley, 26, of Chaloner Road, Hartlepool, were jailed at Teesside Crown Court for attacking a 16-year-old girl.

Katrina went into early labour hours after arriving at Low Newton Prison, in Durham.

She was taken to University Hospital of Hartlepool, but the boy was stillborn soon after.