Belfast mum begs thief to return stolen ashes of baby - ‘Do the right thing and give them back’
The mother of a stillborn baby whose ashes were stolen from her home has said the theft is like losing her child all over again.
A small clear bag was taken from a wooden box containing the ashes of Claire Smallwood's daughter Holly.
The burglary happened in the Ballygomartin Road area of Belfast on Tuesday evening.
In an emotional appeal for the ashes' safe return, Claire said: "Do the right thing and hand them in. Hand them into a local community centre, shop, police station or leave them at my door. Put them back where they belong.
"You wouldn't wish it upon your worst enemy. Just do the right thing, don't hand yourself in, do what you want to, but just give it back. They are no good to anybody."
Claire said Holly was her first baby, adding that she and partner Patrick Mulholland had been "excited parents, thrilled and happy" when she became pregnant.
However, Holly was born stillborn on November 13 last year at 33 weeks and four days, weighing just 2lb 10oz.
Claire revealed that she had it "all ripped away" when she lost her baby.
"It was hard. This feels like we are reliving it all again," she explained.
"It is like a nightmare."
Claire and Patrick now have a second baby, Jonah.
Nothing else was taken in the burglary, which happened between 6.15pm and 9.30pm.
Claire believes the thief may have mistaken the ashes for drugs, adding: "It's the only possible reason I can think of."
She said she doesn't want to know anything about those responsible and just wants the ashes back.
"I'm baffled but I know the only way I'm going to get them back is if they hand them in," she added.
"I don't want to know anything about them. I don't care who it was or who did it. I just want the ashes back. That's all that matters to me."
Claire said it was "bad enough" that an intruder was in her home without someone stealing something so precious.
"I don't think they have a conscience to do something like this in the first place," she said.
"I can't think of any reason why somebody would take them. I just feel sick to my stomach."
Holly's ashes accompanied the couple to all Claire's hospital antenatal appointments so she would not be "left out".
PSNI Inspector Paul Noble said: "Understandably, this has left the victim extremely distressed, therefore, we are appealing to whoever entered the property last night to please do the right thing and return the bag to police."
He urged anyone who can help detectives investigating the burglary to contact police at Tennent Street on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference 1338 of 12/12/17, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.