Thursday, 9 December 2010

Warning for teenager who defaced war memorial

In a recent blog post about the memorial to the HMS Jervis Bay, I mentioned that it had recently been vandalised.

The John O'Groats Journal has recently reported that a 14 year old girl has been given a warning after admitting defacing the memorial.

A 14-YEAR-old girl has admitted defacing the HMS Jervis Bay memorial plaque in Wick last month.

The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been given a warning, according to Wick-based Detective Constable Graham Worton.

The stone plaque at Kirkhill was defaced with blue ink on November 5, just two days before the 70th anniversary of the sinking of the Jervis Bay.

Nine sailors from Caithness lost their lives when the out-gunned convoy escort was sunk in the Atlantic in 1940.

Local woman Hayley Grant, who first spotted the graffiti, said: "I am delighted that someone has been caught for this. It was a terrible thing that they did." Mrs Grant, whose grandfather James Anderson was one of the crew lost in the action, added: "I did not think they would find anybody for it."

Her family were behind the creation of the tribute to the seamen after realising that although some names were mentioned on other war memorials, there was not one that covered all of them and detailed the heroic manner in which they acted.

DC Worton, who heads a new team of officers in Wick and Thurso specifically tasked with dealing with vandalism, said: "Our remit included addressing this particular incident and a 14-year-old female has admitted responsibility."

He said the matter was addressed by a restorative justice warning.

This is a system designed to deal quickly with minor first or second offences and involves a meeting with a police officer to discuss the offence and how similar behaviour in future can be prevented.

DC Worton said: "Children can do things without thinking about the consequences.

"This can be far more effective than submitting a formal report.

"We can make the person aware of how their actions have impacted on individuals, the community and people at large."

He described this specific inquiry as "sensitive" and said vandalism in general caused unrest, upset and frustration.

Caithness Stone Industries, which supplied the original plaque, unveiled in Wick in May 2007, took the damaged stone away to see if it could be repaired. John Sutherland's company replaced it with a new stone which was put in place in time for the local commemoration.

Originally a British liner, the Jervis Bay was escorting a convoy from Nova Scotia to Britain in 1940 when it came across a German pocket battleship which proceeded to attack the merchant ships.

Captain Edward Fegen ordered the Jervis Bay to attack the German boat despite being out-gunned.

A total of 190 crew members died. Of the 18 sailors from Caithness, only nine survived.

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