Belfast Telegraph

Grieving mother has stolen photos of her late daughter returned

'The burglary was very tough, but this has restored my faith'

By Nevin Farrell

A devastated mother whose home was burgled just days after the death of her young daughter has told of her relief after a stolen laptop crammed with special memories was returned to her.

Heartbroken Lynda McCance (25) had earlier fought back tears as she told the Belfast Telegraph how her Bangor home was ransacked just three days after she buried her eight-year-old daughter Chloe.

The little girl died from the terminal condition Batten disease, which she had battled since the age of 18 months.

"Everything from my daughter's wee service was on the laptop, that's the reason it was bought for me," she said just hours before the device was handed back.

"There's the slideshow that we done, a wee story that we wrote of her life and there are wee verses that I wrote that were read out at the service... just gone."

But last night Lynda said her faith in humanity had been restored after the precious PC was returned.

"The police came to my door around 9pm with the laptop. It is brilliant to get it back and everything to do with Chloe's service is still on it, which is brilliant," she said.

"The police did not give any further information but we are delighted we have it back. I am so glad. I never thought I would see it again.

"It has restored my faith in human nature. You think whoever did it did not have a conscience - but they obviously did."

Lynda, from Sinclair Avenue, was out on Friday, getting a tattoo of a guardian angel in tribute to little Chloe Dickson, when the heartless raiders struck.

Despite her living room being full of sympathy cards, the thieves kicked them over to steal the laptop along with Christmas presents belonging to her three-year-old son Cody.

They also stole a handbag which her 27-year-old partner Kevin Rees bought for her so she could keep Chloe's favourite cuddly toy close to her at all times.

The burglars even ransacked Chloe's room, which the family had been finding difficult to enter since her funeral.

"We were out on Friday night getting tattoos done of my daughter.

"My partner got handprints and footprints and my daughter's name, and I got a guardian angel," she said.

"When we returned home, we were broken into. We saw that my daughter's bedroom door was open, which had been closed pretty much since the funeral and, when I went into the kitchen, the back door was open and the back gate too.

"We discovered the laptop had been taken and various Christmas presents - and even a bag of groceries, to add a complete insult to things."

Chloe, who was a pupil at Clifton Special School in Bangor, died on December 10 and her funeral was held six days later.

Lynda has visited her daughter's grave every day since.

Lynda had pleaded with the thieves through the media to return the Acer Aspire Touch laptop and said that if it was, she didn't care if they were not prosecuted.

"I'm completely drained, I really am. It would mean an awful lot to get it back," she had said.

Lynda added: "Our friends and family are completely disgusted, after everything we have been through, especially at this time of year which is supposed to be a happy time."

She was full of praise for the way the community had rallied round after her daughter's tragic passing.

"It was unbelievable, the number of people who came to the service. It really was, for an eight-year-old girl, to show their respect and support."

And Lynda said her three-year-old son Cody has been a big support.

"Cody has been a blessing and helped us to get through so much," she said.

"He said his big sister is asleep."

Background

Chloe Dickson was just eight years old when she died after battling Batten disease since she was a toddler. The little girl was a pupil at Clifton Special School in Bangor. Batten disease is a rare and terminal condition. Early symptoms of the disorder usually appear between the ages of two and 10, with the gradual onset of vision problems or seizures. Doctors say early signs may be personality and behaviour changes, slow learning or regression, repetitive speech, clumsiness or stumbling. Over time, affected children deteriorate and become blind.

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