New grief for family after damage to gravestone.
Byline: Liz Day Reporter email@example.com
A BEREAVED mother has been left "heartbroken" after her son's gravestone containing a personal inscription from one of the notorious Kray twins was damaged.
Norma Harrhy said she could not stop crying after the headstone at Pantmawr Cemetery in Cardiff was knocked and chipped, just weeks before the anniversary of her son's death. The 71-year-old from Gabalfa said: "Everyone always comments on how nicely we keep the grave, but now it is a mess."
Her son Wesley was 19 when he died in a car crash on November 30, 1996 and the family have visited his grave regularly ever since.
The teenager developed an unlikely friendship with notorious gangster Reggie Kray when he wrote to him after watching 1990 biopic The Krays. When Mrs Harrhy wrote to tell him of her son's death, he donated an inscription for the grave and continued to write to the family every Christmas, as well as dedicating a book to them.
The family campaigned for his release from prison and later attended his funeral in 2000. He was released on compassionate grounds eight weeks before his death from cancer.
Ronald "Ronnie" and Reginald "Reggie" Kray were the foremost perpetrators of organised crime in the East End of London during the 1950s and '60s.
With their gang "The Firm", the Krays were involved in armed robberies, arson, protection rackets, assaults and the murders of Jack "The Hat" McVitie and George Cornell.
But after seeing another side of the gangster, Mrs Harrhy said: "He was a decent man. He was sensitive and caring."
Wesley John Harrhy's headstone is made from black marble and cost the family PS5,500.
"We used up our savings," explained Mrs Harrhy.
"We knew it could not bring him back, but we wanted him to have the best. We wanted something there that was solid - something permanent."
Mrs Harrhy was visiting the grave with her husband Tony on October 17 when they found part of the gravestone tipped over, with a chip at the base.
They believe the damage was caused when a coffin was buried in the patch of land next to their son's grave.
"I was in tears," she said. "My husband could not even get out of the car because he was so upset and angry."
She added: "He went back on Sunday, but he could not stay for more than two minutes, because he could not stand the sight of it."
The family say they have received a letter of apology from Cardiff Council, but do not know when the gravestone will be repaired.
A spokesman for the council, which provides burial facilities at seven cemeteries across the city, said the memorial stone had subsided due to a burial in an adjacent grave.
He added: "Bereavement Services are deeply sorry for the understandable distress this has caused the family but are working closely with Mrs Harrhy, the grave owner, to rectify the situation within an agreed timescale that is convenient for the family."
Wesley Harrhy |
The signed print from |Reggie Kray to Wesley Harrhy
Norma and Tony Harrhy, whose son's grave has been damaged by council diggers at Pantmawr cemetery, Cardiff
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|Title Annotation:||News; Teasers|
|Publication:||South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)|
|Date:||Oct 28, 2014|
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