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Last Updated: Monday, 11 October, 2004, 11:14 GMT 12:14 UK
Remains taken from damaged grave
Gladys Hammond
The remains were disturbed seven years after Mrs Hammond's death
Police investigating the desecration of an 82-year-old woman's grave in Staffordshire have confirmed that most of her remains were stolen.

Gladys Hammond's burial plot at St Peter's Church, in Yoxall, was found disturbed on Thursday.

Her family breed guinea pigs for medical research and police are investigating the theory that animal activists were responsible.

They have said that at least two people were involved in digging up the grave.

I would appeal to those responsible to examine their consciences
Det Ch Insp Nicholas Baker
Mrs Hammond, who died in 1997, was the mother-in-law of one of two brothers who run Darley Oaks Farm in Newchurch, where guinea pigs are bred.

The Hall family has been subjected to a long-running campaign by animal rights activists, suffering hate mail, malicious phone calls, hoax bombs, a paedophile smear campaign and arson attacks.

Det Ch Insp Nicholas Baker, from Staffordshire Police, told a news conference that desecrating the grave was "beyond anyone's understanding of morality and decency".

"I would appeal to those responsible to examine their consciences and allow the remains of a much-loved lady to be returned as quickly as possible," he said.

Grave scene

"This incident has gone far beyond anybody's understanding of what constitutes a protest. It's very difficult to try and rationalise what's taken place."

Police say the people responsible for desecrating the grave may have spent up to four hours at the site overnight between last Tuesday and Wednesday morning.

It is understood that no message was left at the scene and the Hall family are not thought to have received any communication explaining why Mrs Hammond's remains were targeted.

Det Ch Insp Baker added: "We have now completed the forensic analysis of the grave and have also completed a detailed search of the graveyard and the surrounding areas.

"Most of the remains of Gladys Hammond are missing and we can only presume that those persons responsible for the desecration have taken the remains.

"Although we are maintaining an open mind, one obvious line of inquiry has to be the connection with the Hall family."

Det Ch Insp Baker says he has not found any colleagues around the country with any experience of dealing with a similar offence.

Detectives are urging anyone with information to contact Stafford police or the Crimestoppers hotline anonymously.

Police comb desecrated grave site
09 Oct 04  |  Staffordshire
Protest 'link' to desecrated grave
08 Oct 04  |  Staffordshire

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