Children's memorial theft condemned


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The Independent Online

A bishop has condemned the theft of a memorial to two children killed by an IRA bomb as "senseless vandalism".

A plaque that formed part of the River of Life, a memorial for victims of the 1993 Warrington blast, was taken from a wall in Bridge Street in a suspected metal theft.

Three-year-old Johnathan Ball and 12-year-old Tim Parry were both killed by two small bombs placed in litter bins on the street, while 54 others were injured in the Cheshire town.

The Bishop of Warrington, the Rt Rev Richard Blackburn, said his prayers were with both families.

He said: "This is senseless vandalism, grieving not only the families but the whole community. I appeal to all who have any information to assist the police and help take this investigation forward.

"My prayers are with the families as they cope with this appalling news."

Tim Parry's father, Colin, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "There has been a spate of war memorial thefts up and down the country and every one of them is shocking.

"It's hard to imagine why anyone would stoop so low to do this."

"Anyone with a conscience or any sense of decency would know that there might be other things that might be less emotionally damaging to take."

His son was killed when two bombs exploded within a minute of each other on March 20 1993, one outside a Boots and another outside a McDonalds in an area crowded with shoppers.

Johnathan died at the scene, while Tim was gravely wounded. He died on March 25 1993 when doctors switched off his life support machine.

The day after the bombings the IRA admitted its volunteers had planted the bombs.

The memorial was unveiled by the Duchess of Kent when she opened it as a symbol of continuing life. It was stolen some time between April 20 and May 5.

Pc Graham Davies, of Cheshire Police, said: "We do not know exactly when the plaque was taken but would appeal to anyone who has any information in relation to the theft to come forward.

"This plaque forms part of a memorial and is of great significance to the town. It is upsetting for people to see that the plaque has been taken.

"We would urge anyone who knows the identity of the thief - or the whereabouts of the plaque - to contact us immediately.

"We would also appeal to anyone who may have been offered the plaque for sale to get in touch."

Earlier this month Cheshire Police said it was collaborating with other forces across the North West to combat the increasing problem of metal theft.

Operation Tornado aims to make it easier to trace sellers of stolen metal through an identification scheme.

Anyone selling scrap metal to participating dealers in the region will be required to provide proof of their identity - either a photo card driving licence including an address, or a passport or national ID card supported by a utility bill, which must be under three-months-old and show their address.