Published: 27/07/2012 11:00 - Updated: 27/07/2012 11:39

Renewed appeal over vandalism of Wick teenager's gravestone

Written byBy Gordon Calder

Dad George Durrand at the vandalised graveside
Dad George Durrand at the vandalised graveside

POLICE believe the answer to solving an act of vandalism at a Wick cemetery “lies within the town”.

Chief Inspector Matthew Reiss, area commander for Caithness, Sutherland and East Ross, yesterday stressed investigations are ongoing and urged people to help officers with their enquiries.

He called on the public to come forward if they have any information about the vandalism which occurred at the gravestone of 17-year-old Christopher Durrand who was killed in a road accident near Bower earlier this year.

“I would urge people who may have information about this incident not to sit back but to have the courage to get in touch with the police. Any information will be treated in total confidence,” the chief inspector told the John O’Groat Journal.

“We believe the answer to solving this crime lies within Wick and hope our enquiries will produce a good conclusion for the Durrand family,” added Chief Inspector Reiss.

The gravestone has meanwhile been removed from the cemetery and is being sent to Aberdeen for examination.

Christopher’s father George Durrand yesterday said the family hope the stone can be saved. “We are hoping that will be the case,” he said. Mr Durrand reckoned the gravestone would be away for about six weeks.

Regarding the ongoing enquiry, he said: “I am confident justice will be done.”

Mr Durrand, who owns Oldwick Garage in Roxburgh Road, Wick, has offered a substantial reward for information about what he described as “a sick act of vandalism”.

“That reward still stands,” he added.

As reported in the Caithness Courier last week, Highland Council staff reported the vandalism to the police after discovering what happened when they arrived for work.

The five-foot memorial was knocked down and laser images of Christopher’s face and car were damaged. The incident happened just a fortnight after the stone was erected. The family had waited about three months for some special stone to be imported from India.

Mr Durrand and Christopher’s mother, Valerie Henderson, were devastated by the death of their only son who died in February when his Ford Fiesta left the road at Hastigrow Bridge. Eighteen-year-old Graham Sutherland, a passenger in the vehicle, was injured in the accident which was discovered by police officers.

At the time, Mr Durrand described Christopher, who worked with him in the garage, as “the best son and the best friend in the world”.

The family, he stated, had been through hell and described the vandalism as “beyond belief”.

“It has broken our hearts all over again,” he added.

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