Page last updated at 14:22 GMT, Monday, 29 June 2009 15:22 UK

Anger after 20 graves vandalised

Damaged gravestone
Gravestones and memorials were smashed at the cemetery

Families and community leaders have reacted angrily after up to 20 graves were vandalised at a cemetery.

Visitors to Bethesda chapel cemetery in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, said they were sickened by the sight of the damage on Saturday morning.

It is the third time some graves have been attacked, and an urgent meeting is being called between the local councils and police to prevent a recurrence.

Police are investigating and are appealing for witnesses.

The council-owned cemetery is one of two in the town.

Town councillor Arthur Holland Williams said his heart went out to those who had been affected.

If I could get hold of whoever's done it, God help them
Katherine Jones, whose parents' grave was damaged

"People here are heartbroken and there's a feeling of bitterness that someone could do this," he said.

"Graves have not only been smashed, but thrown over the wall, it's heart wrenching," he added.

Mr Williams said he had spoken to a mother whose two young sons are buried at the cemetery.

"A marble heart on the grave had been smashed, and the mother is so sad.

"People are demanding that something is done," he added.

The grave of Katherine Jones's parents was one of those damaged.

"It's the third time for it to be smashed," she said.

Damaged grave stone
Shocked visitors discovered the damage on Saturday

"My father loved horses so we had a gravestone with a horse on it," she said.

"The first time the horse was smashed, so we had another one made, the second time the horse's leg was damaged, and again we had it redone, but this time it's completely gone.

"If I could get hold of whoever's done it, God help them," she added.

Gwynedd county councillor Gwilym Euros Roberts said on his blog that the sight that greeted him was "heartbreaking and utterly disgraceful".

"I have nothing but utter contempt for the scum that have caused such mindless damage and terrible heartache to the grieving families," he added.

A spokeswoman for North Wales Police said there were thousands of pounds worth of damage.

"Gravestones and statues on over 20 graves had been damaged, and flowers and memorial vases had been strewn around the cemetery.

"Inquiries are underway and house to house inquiries have also been conducted," she added.

A Gwynedd council spokesperson said: "As a council, we are very disappointed by this incident and send our condolences to the families effected.

"We will now be arranging a meeting on site with local councillors, town council representatives and North Wales Police, so that we can consider what additional safety measures can be introduced at the cemetery."

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