GRAVES and trees were damaged in a trail of destruction left by a vehicle driven across a New Forest burial site.
Deep tyre tracks were left in the churned up ground at Eling cemetery, off Eling Hill in Totton, at the weekend.
Two graves were damaged in the incident which affected the woodland area of the site. Several trees were also harmed. Due to the wet ground repairs are only likely in the New Year.
Cllr David Harrison, who represents the Totton South ward which contains the cemetery, said: “This is really disappointing. It’s a double whammy – damaging the environment and it is very likely to cause upset and distress to relatives of the deceased.
“It’s very hard to understand why anybody would do such a thing and alarming to think that they may hold a driving licence. I do hope they are identified and prosecuted.”
The cemetery is owned and managed by New Forest District Council which said it had alerted the police and on Monday contacted the people associated with the damaged graves.
An NFDC spokesperson said: “Unfortunately some damage has been caused at Eling cemetery‘s woodland area by a member of the public’s vehicle over the weekend.
“The ground has been churned up, and trees and two plinths have been damaged.
“We have teams on site to make the area good as much as we can but ground conditions are making this difficult.”
She added: “Our apologies to anyone visiting the cemetery, we are working to put this right as soon as ground conditions approve but we don’t anticipate this to be until the New Year.”
Eling is one of seven cemeteries managed by the district council across the New Forest. The others are at Beaulieu, Blackfield, Lymington, two in New Milton, and Sway.
NFDC appealed for anyone with information to get in touch with the council via firstname.lastname@example.org or on 023 8028 5000.