‘Gut-wrenching, disgusting’ act as baby’s grave vandalised at cemetery

The grave of a baby girl at Orange cemetery has been vandalised, with ornaments left there smashed and twisted in a vile attack over the weekend.

Julie Dittmar, whose daughter Hayley Louise was stillborn in 1997, found out the grave had been vandalised from a family member who visited the cemetery on Saturday.

One of the ornaments was a roughly A4 paper-sized rose carving with an inscription of a poem, with statues of an owl and other animals also left by the tombstone. 

Other metal decorations placed nearby were also twisted and bent by the vandals. 

An emotional Mrs Dittmar said she was “disgusted [that] someone this low could do something to someone’s loved ones”.

“It’s gut-wrenching, it’s horrible, it just makes you feel so sick,” she said.

“It makes me wonder if I should replace stuff or just buy it and keep it at home, but I like to buy stuff and leave it up there.”

Mrs Dittmar said she had seen people, including students, walking through the cemetery damaging graves, and wants security measures put in place to protect the cemetery.

She said keepsakes, decorations and mementos had gone missing from her daughter’s grave in the past, and suggested additional fencing or surveillance would help curb the problem.

It’s gut-wrenching, it’s horrible, it just makes you feel so sick.

Julie Dittmar

Mrs Dittmar contacted Orange police and Orange City Council on the weekend to report the act, but both indicated the absence of evidence beyond the smashed and mangled items made catching the guilty party a near impossible task.

Orange City Council Communications Officer Allan Reeder said there were already security measures and procedures in place at the East Orange resting place.

“The gates are locked each night at sunset and there are after-hours patrols at night,” he said.

“Positioning mobile CCTV cameras at the cemetery is an option that could be considered in future, but that would need to be balanced with privacy concerns.”

Mr Reeder said most residents considered the cemetery a “special place” in the city, one “with strong memories for many in the Orange community”, and treated it accordingly.

“On the whole residents consistently give it the respect it deserves,” he said.

“Incidents of damage are, thankfully, very rare.”

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