Mum and dad died just weeks apart, I cried when I saw how the headstone I designed for them was smashed by thugs
Man's heartache as vandals desecrate final resting place of his parents
A man who had to bury his father and mother within the space of four weeks said vandals who smashed their headstone have robbed him of the peace he felt visiting their grave.
Micky Doherty designed the headstone that bore testimony to the love for his parents, who both passed away around 18 months ago, but their grave was among a number to be desecrated by vandals at Derry City Cemetery.
He said the pain he felt looking at the destruction brought back waves of grief when his parents died.
He explained: "I was actually shaking after I was contacted and told my parents' grave had been damaged in this attack.
"I came here thinking 'don't worry, it can be fixed', but when I arrived and saw what they had done I just cried.
"I adored my mother, she was my world.
"I never even had to wash a cup, she was so good, and I designed the headstone for her and my daddy myself, it was hand-crafted. My heart is sore, this is where I come to be close to my parents, to talk to them and pray, it's their final resting place and these wee thugs have taken from me the sense of peace I get from being here.
"But theirs is not the only grave to be damaged, there are others, and one woman was here and we just hugged each other and cried.
"I cannot understand how anyone could do this, but some day they will know how it feels when they have to bury their parents or someone they love, and they will know then how we feel, and I hope they are sorry."
The police are on the lookout for three youths who were disturbed inside the cemetery at the weekend.
At least one of them was wearing a grey coloured tracksuit and left the scene on foot.
Derry and Strabane Independent councillor Sean Carr called for tough action against the perpetrators. He said: "I fully understand what these families are going through because around four years ago the grave of my baby was also desecrated by vandals and it is a horrible experience for anyone.
"It is difficult to comprehend how anyone could stoop this low when you consider everyone has someone belonging to them who has died.
"It is hard to know how to prevent this from happening, perhaps longer opening hours might work so that members of the public are in the cemetery for longer.
"But I do think anyone caught carrying out this kind of vandalism should face tough penalties."
Anyone with information about the attack or who noticed any suspicious activity in the area of the cemetery is asked to contact officers at Strand Road quoting reference 1290 15/07/16.
Information can also be given anonymously through the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.