Family's distress at bench vandalism

By Liz HearnshawA HEARTBROKEN mother has condemned vandals who desecrated a bench dedicated to the memory of her 22-year-old son, who died in an African rainforest five years ago.

By Liz Hearnshaw

A HEARTBROKEN mother has condemned vandals who desecrated a bench dedicated to the memory of her 22-year-old son, who died in an African rainforest five years ago.

It is the second time in four years Cathy Saer and her husband Ken have been forced to repair damage to the heavy oak seat, placed in the Nayland Road sports field in Bures, near Sudbury, in memory of their son Daniel.

In the latest incident, the bench was pulled from its concrete base, with rear slats kicked out, in turn damaging a carved inscription featuring Daniel's name.


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The damage has left the Saer family reeling with shock, bringing back painful memories of their son's death.

“I just cannot explain how we feel. It is particularly distressing to us as we can see the bench from our house,” said Mrs Saer.

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“When we see people enjoying the bench, it brings us comfort, but to look at it now is absolutely heartbreaking.

“And it makes it even harder that this is the second time this has happened. Living day-to-day without Daniel is difficult enough without this sort of thing happening.”

She added: “The bench was placed there not only in memory of Daniel, but also for the pleasure of everybody else in the village. The mindless few have now wrecked it all.

“An awful lot of brute force was used to do this. It makes me feel awful as I find myself looking at youngsters in the village and wondering if they had something to do with it.”

A graduate in environmental science, Daniel Saer died in 1998 during a three-month trip to Tanzania.

Just three weeks after arriving, his body was discovered in the dense undergrowth after he became separated from his friends on a jungle trail.

Despite a post-mortem examination, the cause of his death was never determined. His body showed no signs of an attack and foul play was ruled out, but marks on his arm suggested he might have been bitten by a snake.

Although Daniel's family are planning to repair the bench, they have said they will consider removing it from the sports field if any further damage is caused.

Det Sgt Darrin Tomkins, of Suffolk police, said: “We are appalled that this vandalism has occurred to a memorial bench and the act has left the family particularly distressed.”

Anyone with information about the vandalism to the bench, which happened on May 31, should contact Pc Ruth Horton, of Sudbury police, on 01284 774300.

liz.hearnshaw@eadt.co.uk

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