THE mother of a baby whose grave ornaments were smashed by a ‘despicable’ criminal has spoken of her heartache.
Lorraine Blackburn was in court to see prolific offender Stephen Mills jailed for six months for damaging the lights on her son Owen’s grave in Waterlooville Cemetery.
Owen was born prematurely and died aged three months in 2009. Mrs Blackburn tends his grave daily and was distraught when police officers arrived on her doorstep to tell her what happened.
She said: ‘I burst out crying. It’s heartbreaking to think that Mills has tarnished the one place we have got to be with Owen.
‘It’s horrible that some weird little man has stolen and smashed the things on Owen’s grave. I bought all new ornaments and lights because I didn’t want anything on the grave touched by Mills.
‘It’s not just material damage, it’s emotional damage that he’s caused.’
Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard from witness Thomas Johnson that it was dark, around 5.30pm, on December 16, when he spotted Mills walk into the cemetery and make his way to the children’s graves area. Mr Johnson was paying his respects to his mother but kept an eye on Mills, 37, of Celia Close, Waterlooville, and saw him pick up the lights and heard banging.
He then watched him carry the light to another grave before more bangs were heard. Mr Johnson chased him and Mills threw the lights into a bush.
He ran into busy Hulbert Road but Mr Johnson caught up with him.
Mr Johnson said: ‘I put my hand on his shoulder to make a citizen’s arrest and call the police. With that he curled up on the floor and started crying like a little girl.’
Mill suddenly jumped up and ran back out into the road, straight into the path of a police van, the court heard.
He was arrested but denied he was responsible. District Judge Anne Arnold found Mills guilty of one count of criminal damage.
He had previously been found guilty, in his absence, of two counts of criminal damage to two cells at Waterlooville police station after he was arrested, and a public order offence of abusing a custody officer at the station.
He was jailed for a total of 26 weeks to run consecutively to the 19 months he is already serving for other crimes.
District Judge Arnold said: ‘You have the most appalling record of offending with some 56 convictions for some 191 offences.’
She added: ‘It is despicable that you have put the court to the trouble of a trial. The mother of the child has taken the trouble to come here.’