Damaged grave, Chinchilla cemetery
Damaged grave, Chinchilla cemetery Brooke Duncan

Families foot the bill for grave repairs

VISITORS to the old Chinchilla cemetery have been greeted with the tragic sight of rubble, skid marks and mowed-down headstones.

Months after reckless vandals damaged tombstones with cars, heartbroken families still don't know who is responsible - and have been left to foot repair costs which, for some, rolls into the thousands.

Long-time Chinchilla resident, 88-year-old Fay Head, discovered her mother's headstone had been knocked over and the edges of the grave destroyed weeks after the incident.

She said she understood a car had been driven through the fence on Cemetery Rd and into the cemetery, damaging numerous graves along the way, sometime in early February.

To add insult to injury, Mrs Head said when her son and daughter-in-law investigated, the council told them it had no insurance over the cemetery - leaving the family to pay up to $4000 to replace the headstone.

"It came as a surprise because I thought automatically if there's damage to anything in parks or places like that, I'm sure council has insurance,” Mrs Head said.

"Fortunately I'm not a pensioner but it's an unnecessary cost.

A Western Downs Regional Council statement said the council became aware of an incident involving damage to graves by a vehicle in the Chinchilla cemetery on February 7.

"Council staff worked with funeral directors, stonemasons and through our own records to try to identify right of burial holders/family members,” the statement read.

"Where possible a letter was sent to the ROB holders or family members advising of the incident and damage sustained.”

"This incident is now under investigation.”

The council did not respond to questions about the lack of insurance on the cemetery.

A Chinchilla police spokeswoman confirmed the matter was still under investigation.

For Mrs Head though, the heart of the issue is the reckless damage to what should be a place of respect and memory.

"I would like the people who did it to realise just what damage they have done,” Mrs Head said. "They've just caused trauma and stress to the people whose loved ones' graves have been destroyed.”

If you have any information, call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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