Stolen gravestone at Kempton Cemetery
Stolen gravestone at Kempton Cemetery

Theft from grave 160 years on angers family

A descendant of a man whose gravestone was stolen from a cemetery at Kempton has expressed anger over the theft and called for action to find the culprit.

Bob Casey is a descendant of John Vincent, who built the iconic Callington Mill at Oatlands in 1837 and died in 1857.

"I'm absolutely outraged,'' Mr Casey said.

"He must be rolling in his grave because his tombstone has been stolen."

 

Callington Mill at Oatlands, which was built by John Vincent in 1837.
Callington Mill at Oatlands, which was built by John Vincent in 1837.

Police confirmed they were investigating the theft, which they said was reported to them in June.

The cemetery is connected to St Mary's Church, which is one of many Anglican churches around the state to be listed for sale to fund redress commitments.

Communities have expressed concerns about the future management of cemeteries adjacent to many of the churches marked for sale.

Mr Casey - who only found about the theft on Sunday - said it should be considered a "jailable" offence.

Police said, in the magistrates court, penalties for stealing, damaging property or removing a monument from a cemetery range from fines of up to $8400, to jail terms of up to five years.

Penalties can be more severe if a matter is dealt with in the Supreme Court.

"If nothing is done, it virtually gives the green light for someone to go into any country cemetery in Tasmania and remove tombstones and suffer no consequences,'' Mr Casey said.

"It's got to be stopped immediately. Passions are running high because of the sale of country churches through the redress scheme."

Southern Midlands Council's heritage projects manager Brad Williams described the theft as concerning, but said council had limited capacity to investigate.

"It's fair to say any removal of headstones, or any damage to headstones, is a very concerning matter,'' he said.

Mr Williams said there was a high level of community interest in the potential sale of St Mary's Church and the future of the adjoining cemetery.

An Anglican Diocese of Tasmania spokesperson said the parish had reported the theft to police earlier this year.

The spokesperson said the church acknowledged concerns about the future of cemeteries and were continuing to maintain them in accordance with the Burial and Cremation Act.

The Government last year introduced an amendment to the Act, which was aimed at protecting cemeteries at sites listed for sale.

It has passed the House of Assembly but is yet to be debated by the Legislative Council.

A police spokeswoman said the gravestone theft remained under investigation.

Anyone with information should phone Oatlands Police on 131 444 or contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or crimestopperstas.com.au



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