POLICE ordered a cafe owner to change his gruesome Halloween window display – which featured a dead baby and a child’s bloodied body.
A shocked passer-by was so offended by the gory scene – staged with mannequins – at Memory Lane Cafe, in Greywell Precinct, Leigh Park, that they complained to Havant officers.
Cafe owner Ian Payne, who is vice-chairman of Leigh Park Traders’ Association, has now removed the baby and says he only ever did it for publicity to attract visitors to the precinct.
But Lorraine Blackburn, who lost her son Owen at three months, said she thought the display was ‘totally insensitive’.
Mrs Blackburn, of Waterlooville, added: ‘It’s just wrong, it’s sick. I don’t know why they would include something like that.
‘Surely it would make people avoid the place rather than shop there?’
The baby was cut up with blood and it did look gory. But it was just tomato sauce. More people loved it than hated it. Bad publicity is better than no publicityIan Payne
Councillor Mike Fairhurst, who represents Leigh Park on Havant Borough Council, said: ‘I haven’t seen it but if it had a mutilated baby in the window he has obviously gone too far. He has made a mistake and I’m glad he has taken it down.’
Police stepped in after they received the complaint and they asked Mr Payne to remove the baby under anti-social behaviour legislation on the grounds of taste and decency.
A volunteer from the Cops and Coffee drop-in cafe provided Mr Payne with police tape. In a statement Hampshire Constabulary said: ‘Officers have spoken to the business owner to make them aware of concerns raised by members of the public and the display has subsequently been altered.
‘A police volunteer had previously handed the business owner a section of police tape and will be reminded of the policy in relation to police property.
‘The tape has been removed from the display by the business owner.’
The detailed display took Mr Payne and his wife Debbie four days to create.
He is well known in the area for his work promoting the precinct and has organised the window display competition, of which the gory scene was part.
He has helped boost visitor numbers to Greywell by starting a fortnightly car boot sale in the precinct and is on the charity Christmas grotto committee.
Mick Crockford from the committee defended Mr Payne, although he did not want to comment on the display itself.
He said: ‘Ian does an awful lot for this community and we need more people like him.
‘He is trying to bring back community spirit, which is really needed in Leigh Park. He is a good egg.’
And customer Jane Smith, from Leigh Park, said: ‘This is a witch hunt. It is quite obvious they’re models and dolls.’
Mr Payne said: ‘We do a lot for the community and hold a lot of events. Basically this was just for publicity.
‘It’s a front room with dismembered mannequins and one of them had a baby.
‘The baby was cut up with blood and it did look gory. But it was just tomato sauce. More people loved it than hated it. Bad publicity is better than no publicity.’
Greywell Precinct is 60 years old next year and, ahead of that, the window display competition was a way of drumming up extra trade for the shops.
It will be judged tomorrow and a children’s fancy dress competition takes place at 2pm on Saturday.