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Dagenham woman catches Plaistow cemetery gardeners pocketing booze tributes at partner’s grave

PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 December 2019 | UPDATED: 07:14 06 December 2019

Sue wanted to create a shrine to her partner who died in May at the age of 48 from Motor Neurone Disease. Picture: Jon King

Sue wanted to create a shrine to her partner who died in May at the age of 48 from Motor Neurone Disease. Picture: Jon King

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A grieving woman has caught cemetery gardeners on film pocketing bottles of booze left at her partner’s grave.

David Holmes passed away in May this year. Picture: Jon KingDavid Holmes passed away in May this year. Picture: Jon King

Sue Stott of Dagenham hid a £70 camera in a tree to catch two men swiping miniature bottles of spirits left as tributes by the memorial at East London Crematorium and Cemetery in Grange Road, Plaistow.

Sue said: "It's made me ill. All I wanted to do was create a shrine. I'm so angry with it all."

The 50-year old explained how her partner, former soldier David Holmes, started asking for booze after getting fed up of always being given pyjamas for Christmas.

Sue arranged a few bottles, poppies, ceramic soldiers and a sculpture of David's army boots at his grave after the 48-year old died from Motor Neurone Disease in May.

Booze left at David's grave started going missing in June. Picture: Jon KingBooze left at David's grave started going missing in June. Picture: Jon King

When the bottles first went missing, Sue kept replacing them, but more than 50 bottles were taken since June.

Carer Sue said: "I told staff at the cemetery and they said it could be children, the wind, crows or magpies taking them. But I couldn't believe them."

So she set up the camera and got instant results with footage showing the pair snatching bottle after bottle, hiding them in their pockets before skulking off.

"David loved his collection. He was so proud of it. To see it taken made me so angry. But what really upset me the most was they took them from his grave on Remembrance Day," Sue said.

David on a trip to Egypt. Picture: Jon KingDavid on a trip to Egypt. Picture: Jon King

When Sue showed cemetery bosses the videos, they ordered the pair, employed by Countrywide Grounds Maintenance which is contracted to look after the graveyard, off the site.

Steve Gant from Dignity plc which runs the cemetery said: "We are extremely sorry for the distress this has caused Ms Stott and her family. This behaviour falls far below the standards we expect.

"Discussions will be taking place with a director of the firm that provides the contractors to ensure they never work at any of our cemeteries in future."

James Kelly, managing director of Countrywide Grounds Maintenance, said: "We would like to send our sincere apologies to Ms Stott.

Two gardeners pocket booze left in tribute at the ex-soldier's grave. Picture: Sue StottTwo gardeners pocket booze left in tribute at the ex-soldier's grave. Picture: Sue Stott

"We are extremely disappointed by the actions taken by these individuals acting on their own account. We have zero-tolerance for this behaviour in our organisation.

"Those concerned are currently going through a disciplinary process and the matter will be fully investigated. We are co-operating fully with the police."

A Met Police spokeswoman said enquiries are ongoing but no arrests have been made.


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