Councillor says sorry over cemetery crash

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A councillor apologised today after she damaged graves in a cemetery by accidentally crashing her new car into them.

Shirley Potts, who is in her 70s, lost control of her automatic Hyundai in Mangotsfield cemetery, South Gloucestershire, on Easter Sunday.

The car belonging to the Labour councillor for Staple Hill ploughed into six gravestones.

Mrs Potts, who had owned the vehicle for a month, had been laying flowers on her son's grave and was trying to leave the cemetery when her foot slipped and became momentarily caught on the accelerator.

She explained: "It all happened so fast, the car just shot forward.

"I was really upset by what happened - they were lovely graves. It was just one of those things, it was a total accident."

Police initially launched an appeal for witnesses following the incident.

The councillor said she wanted to contact the family whose graves she damaged but was advised not to do so.

Yvonne Orchard, 31, contacted police after discovering the damage.

She told the Bristol Evening Post: "It would have been nice to receive an apology as I'm sure she didn't do it deliberately but must have appreciated the distress it must have caused.

"We are sure it was an accident and accidents happen. The fact that she came forward at all means we can now put our minds at rest that this was an accident and not mindless vandalism."

Inspector Kevin Thatcher, from Avon and Somerset Police, said: "Officers have spoken to the person responsible and this matter is no longer being treated as criminal damage but as a collision.

"We have spoken to the woman whose family's graves were damaged and updated her with the current state of our inquiries."