‘Trail of destruction’ as 60 headstones toppled in cemetery vandalism

PCs Mark McCulloch (left) and Gavin Kaye with Liz Murphy at the cemetery. Pics: FPA
PCs Mark McCulloch (left) and Gavin Kaye with Liz Murphy at the cemetery. Pics: FPA

Vandals who damaged over 60 headstones in a Kirkcaldy cemetery over the festive period have been slammed for their callous actions.

Thousands of pounds worth of damage has been caused to the graves in the “sustained attack” which took place at Bennochy cemetery between Christmas and New Year.

And an appeal has been made for any information to be passed to police to help catch those responsible.

Speaking at the cemetery this week, Liz Murphy, Fife Council’s bereavement services manager, said: “Over Christmas and New Year, around 60 headstones were pushed over at Bennochy Cemetery in Kirkcaldy.

“This is one of the worst acts of vandalism I have come across and will cause a lot of upset and expense to a lot of families.

“These graves will now require new foundations and to be re-erected at a cost of around £200 each. This is an incredibly distressing time for relatives and those visiting our cemeteries.

“This kind of behaviour, although rare, is despicable and we’d ask anyone who has any information about this incident to come forward and report it.”

Where lair holders cannot be contacted, it is Fife Council’s responsibility to ensure that headstones are maintained in a safe state. Over the past decade a maintenance programme has been carried out.

When the Press visited the cemetery with community police officers and Mrs Murphy, we saw dozens of headstones pushed over, with grass around them ripped up and some cracked and broken.

The trail of destruction stretched around the perimeter of the cemetery, which is enclosed by high stone walls and a metal gate, and other areas of damage within.

Councillor Judy Hamilton, who represents the area, said: “This was a sustained attack of vandalism. It is very disappointing, especially at this time of year when lots of people will be visiting the graves of their loved ones.”

PC Mark McCulloch said: “Around 60 headstones were deliberately knocked over, and we believe due to the weight of them that this may have involved several people. Cemeteries are a place to be respected and this appalling behaviour has caused a lot of distress to people who have loved ones buried there.

“This is a popular route for dog walkers and we’re urging anyone who noticed this damage over the festive period to come forward, as we’re working to establish the timeframe within which this occurred.

“We’re also appealing for anyone who witnessed these acts, saw suspicious behaviour in the area during this time, or has any information that can assist with the investigation to come forward.”

Bennochy Cemetery

Bennochy Cemetery, also known as Kirkcaldy Cemetery, contains over 2200 burial plots including that of Lieutenant-Colonel William Thomas Marshall, a quartermaster sergeant with the 19th Hussars, and recipient of the Victoria Cross, who was buried there in 1920.

It has been a burial site since 1833 when it was built just outside the town walls on the site of the town’s former gallows.