‘Why wasn’t I told accused was set free?’, says mum of baby whose grave was vandalised

Lorraine Blackburn with her son Owen, who was born prematurely and died aged three months, in 2009
Lorraine Blackburn with her son Owen, who was born prematurely and died aged three months, in 2009
The old radar station at Fraser Range, Eastney Picture: Shaun Roster

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THE mum of a baby whose grave was vandalised says she is furious that police did not tell her the man jailed for the crime has had his conviction overturned.

Stephen Mills had his appeal against the conviction upheld in March but Lorraine Blackburn only found out through a chance conversation with a witness.

Her son Owen was born prematurely and died aged three months in 2009.

His grave in Hulbert Road Cemetery, Waterlooville, was damaged in December and a trial, which she attended, held in February.

Mills was jailed for six months.

The appeal was the following month.

Mrs Blackburn, who now works for the charity Ickle Pickles which raises money for neonatal units, said: ‘Owen’s grave has recently been damaged again which was so upsetting.

‘Since the original trial the witness has become a friend of ours and I was discussing the latest damage when he mentioned that he had been called to give evidence at the appeal.

‘I had absolutely no idea about it until then.

‘I just could not believe that no-one from the police even bothered to tell me about it.

‘It would have taken a quick phone call but we had nothing. It’s not on.’

The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed it would have been the responsibilty of the witness care team at Hampshire Constabulary to inform Mrs Blackburn.

Since The News became involved, the police have contacted her to arrange a meeting about what went wrong. A spokeswoman for the force said it would not be appropriate to comment.

In the latest incident, the ornaments have been rearranged which Mrs Blackburn says rules out wind or animals moving them.

She said: ‘They haven’t been smashed.

‘They’ve been moved around. Which is strange because they are heavy.

‘I go every single day and I do feel vulnerable.

‘There needs to be CCTV there for safety and to find who is doing the damage. Havant Borough Council needs to install it.’

Mills, 37, of Celia Close, Waterlooville, is currently serving a three-year jail sentence for a range of other crimes.

A camera funded by local residents in the 1990s already exists there, but it hasn’t been switched on for some time.

Havant Borough Council said it doesn’t contribute towards the camera’s upkeep as it receives very few reports of vandalism, and there is no CCTV equipment within its cemeteries across the area.