A BOY aged nine and his 10-year-old sister have admitted responsibilty for a crimewave at a South Yorkshire graveyard.
The children pushed over 11 gravestones, smashed eight vases and destroyed floral tributes and porcelain teddy bears taken from children’s graves.
They were caught when a police officer spotted the boy in a neighbouring graveyard trying to push other headstones over.
Police chiefs had ordered extra patrols in and around the graveyard, next to Holy Trinity Church, Elsecar, after complaints about vandalism.
The siblings have now been dealt with under a ‘restorative justice’ scheme, which avoids offenders having to go to court.
Victims of crime are asked for their views on how offenders should be dealt with - and punishments can include children writing letters of apology.
Reverend Alison Lamb, from Holy Trinity Church, said: “It’s awful for this damage to have occurred.
“I don’t think people realise how damaging it can be those who have lost loved ones and they go and find their graves desecrated.”
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “Officers liaised with bereavement services and relatives to repair as much of the damage as possible before arranging for increased patrols around the area.
She said an officer spotted the boy trying to push a gravestone over and took him home - where it emerged that he and his sister were responsible for the damage.
The spokeswoman added: “Both children admitted they pushed over the gravestones and caused the damage in the graveyard.
“Both received restorative justice and are very sorry for their actions.”
PC Craig Sumpter said: “This is a terrible set of circumstances where two children have attacked gravestones and damaged personal items belonging to grieving families.
“It is hoped the experience, and restorative justice, will teach them and others this type of behaviour is not acceptable.
“What all children need to consider is that foolish, unnecessary actions can have a detrimental effect on other people.”