Grave theft out­rage

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWS - CAMERON WHITE­LEY

A DE­SCEN­DANT of a man whose head­stone 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.”

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 out 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 ranged 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.

Pic­ture: LUKE BOWDEN

AN­GRY: Bob Casey is a de­scen­dant of John Vin­cent, whose head­stone has been taken from the ceme­tery at Kemp­ton.

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