Family’s ‘disgust’ at obscene graffiti on memorial bench

The Bennet family gather at their daughter Claire's  vandalised memorial bench
The Bennet family gather at their daughter Claire's vandalised memorial bench

A FAMILY who returned from holiday to find obscene graffiti scrawled over their dead daughter’s memorial bench have spoken of their ‘disgust’ at the vandalism.

The Bennet family of Williams Road, Shoreham, found out through Facebook that vandals had covered the bench at Mill Hill with expletives so offensive they could not be printed here.

The bench was installed in memory of Claire Bennet, who died when she was just 11 years old.

“I’m disgusted and ashamed to think there’s people out there who would do this,” said mum Karen, 54.

“I think they are just scum. It’s horrible. It was only a few months before that Carl had been up there and sanded it and it looked lovely.”

Claire’s dad Peter, 58, said he too had been disgusted by the vandalism.

“It’s just a shame they can’t put all their energy into something worthwhile instead of going round destroying things like this,” he said.

“It was quite a tear jerker, especially for Claire’s grandmother.”

Mr Bennet said the graffiti had been dealt with very quickly by the council.

The family were on holiday in Cumbria when the graffiti was reported by a dog walker who often sat on the bench.

She took a photo and posted it on Facebook, alerting the family to the news.

“It was quite upsetting really,” said Claire’s brother Carl, 25.

“It was very foul language. I wouldn’t even show the pictures to my nan.”

Carl said it had seemed as if someone had had a disagreement with another person and had decided to vent their anger on the bench.

Claire’s eldest brother Ricky, 31, reported the incident to the police.

“I was just appalled by it,” he said.

“The words on it were completely vulgar.

“Some people just don’t have respect.”

A police spokesman said officers had been informed of the incident and had reported it as criminal damage.

In 1995, when Claire was nine years old, she started having dizzy spells.

She was treated at Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath and later St George’s Hospital in London, where tests revealed a brain tumour.

Surgeons removed a third of the tumour, relieving the pressure on Claire’s brain, but she died two-and-a-half years later.

Mrs Bennet said Claire had been a very happy child who had gone through a lot, but had always kept smiling.