THE devastated mother of a murdered teenager has spoken of her heartache after thieves stole tributes from her son’s graveside.
Andrew Holland, aged 16, was stabbed to death outside Ashys takeaway in Plodder Lane, Farnworth, on August 17, 2007.
He was buried at St Michael and St Bartholomew’s Church, Great Lever, and his mother, Joan, has visited the grave every week since his death.
Miss Holland and the rest of Andrew’s family have created a huge decorated shrine to the teenager — leaving toys, angels and other mementoes so he “doesn’t feel alone”.
But when Miss Holland went to tend the grave on Mother’s Day, she was horrified to discover someone had stolen some of the flower arrangements, solar lights, and toys.
It is not the first time ornaments have gone missing from Andrew’s grave.
In 2008 — just a year after his death — thieves repeatedly stole the same type of ornaments placed on the same spot by the grieving family.
Miss Holland, aged 50, said: “I couldn’t believe it when I saw they had done it again. I was shaking all over. I felt ill I was so angry and upset. Why would you take something from a dead child?
“I leave the solar lights and angels on there because I can’t stand to think of him alone in the dark.
“My grandchildren leave things down there too. Things like toy cars or meercats. They’re just things that we think Andrew would like and that helps us.
“They are things that are of no value to anyone else. It’s like they’ve gone down there with a big black bag and cleared the lot.
“I would love to catch them. It’s heartbreaking enough to lose a child but to take from the dead, I think whoever has done this is evil.”
Miss Holland has reported the thefts to the police but says she wants more to be done to protect the graveyard.
Reverend Jenny Penn, team vicar of the Seven Saints team, said: “It must be desperately sad for the family. I think it’s a terrible that something like this could happen to a family who have already been through so much.”
Andrew’s killer, Mahmood Maksoudian, aged 22, at the time, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 19 years in prison.
Miss Holland, a grandmother-of-six, still remembers the last phonecall she had with her son just 20 minutes before he was stabbed.
She said: “He rang me 20 minutes before it happened to ask if a friend could stay and that he was on his way home. I’ll never forget that phonecall.”
Police are investigating the thefts.