Gravestone desecration is a horror story for loved ones

Central Hunter crime manager Detective Inspector John Zdrilic is to be commended for his strong words about cemetery vandalism.

He made his opinion known after ratbags tagged a Telarah headstone and devastated a dead man’s daughter.

For many, a visit to the final resting place of a loved one’s earthly remains is a non-negotiable part of a family’s cycle of respect and remembrance.

Graveyards are dotted with festive bouquets around significant calendar events. Mother’s Day. Father’s Day. Christmas.

At other times of the year, the memorials continue to commemorate lives that are remembered daily in the hearts and homes of those who loved them.

Their pictures hang on walls. Their names are said in prayers. However, their headstones often stand alone, at the mercy of the elements and dark hearts of those that would desecrate their solemnity.

It is then that cemeteries, which are sad places at the best of times, can become real life horror stories.

Christine Turner’s nightmare struck when she visited the Campbells Hill grave of her father, Ivan Roy Turner.


Ms Turner had made a fleeting trip from Perth to the Hunter Region to attend another family member’s funeral. While in town she went to Telarah to visit her father’s grave, weed and ensure it was tidy.

She found the headstone tagged with black spraypaint. And, to make matters worse, she had to leave her father’s headstone in its defaced condition as she had neither the time nor the cleaning materials to put things right.

Ms Turner contacted Maitland police and then the Maitland Mercury.

“I just want to know who, and why,” she said.

Inspector Zdrilic would also like to know who is responsible.

“Rest assured if I find someone who has been defacing a grave stone I will treat it much more harshly than a kind who has sprayed a tag on a wall,” he said.

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