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'it felt like he had died all over again. ' Mum distraught as dead son's plaque is removed.

Byline: LIZ WALKER

A MUM whose son was knifed to death has been left distraught after his memorial plaque was removed just days before the anniversary of his death.

Margaret Smith said it felt like her son had "died all over again" when she was handed the plaque, paid for by a group of his generous friends following his tragic death six years ago this week.

She was told that as no one had paid the renewal costs of PS210, it had been taken down.

But she is angry that no one from the council approached her to let her know the lease was up, and claims had she been aware of the sum, it would have been paid. She is now trying to raise the cash in time for his anniversary on Friday.

The 52-year-old, who works as a cleaner and has four other children, said: "When his friend brought the plaque round to the house, it felt like he had died all over again. All the memories and feelings just kept coming back like it was yesterday."

A spokesman for Newcastle City Council said: "The memorial vase plaques are leased for an initial five-year period. In this particular case, we wrote to the community organisation who originally leased the plaque to see if they would like to continue the arrangement. They did not wish to do this. However, if they or the family now wish to renew the lease, we would be more than happy to reinstall the plaque at the crematorium."

It is the policy of all councils in the region for memorial plaques to be leased for a set period, but prices and time span vary between local authorities.

David Hines of the North of England Victims' Association, whose daughter Marie was murdered, said: "This has happened to others I know too and is just another case of insensitivity towards the families of victims of serious crimes."

Mark, 16, of Elswick, Newcastle, was stabbed in the neck during a drink-fuelled row in Newcastle's West End six years ago.

The Toon-mad lad collapsed and died at the corner of Elswick Road and Caroline Street in Benwell.

After his death, friends from the Northbourne Street Youth Initiative applied for funding for the memorial plaque. Initiative manager Gillian Finn said that the group who purchased the plaque no longer attend the initiative and, when contacted by the council, she went and collected the plaque, arranging for it to be returned to Mark's mother.

She added: "It was not our intention to cause any further grief or sadness to Mark's family and apologise if this has been the case."

CAPTION(S):

UPSET Margaret Smith, whose son''s plaque, inset, has been removed
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 29, 2013
Words:451
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