Northern Ireland

Woman grave robber jailed for six months

A woman who stole angel statues, flowers and sentimental tokens from a County Down cemetery has been jailed for six months.

Carol Ann McKnight, 48, of Henderson Avenue, Carnalea, stole the mementoes from graves, including those of children and babies.

Newtownards court heard that she used them to decorate her own garden.

As well as a jail sentence, McKnight was banned from Clandyboye cemetery where her father is buried.

The court was told on Thursday that McKnight had mental health issues but did not suffer from a mental health illness and was intelligent.

Police had received reports of more than 50 missing objects before McKnight's arrest.

She admitted 16 offences over an 11-month period between 2010 and 2011. A number of families whose graves were robbed were present in court.

The judge said he imagined these thefts had caused great distress to the families.

A defence lawyer said Ms McKnight was "bordering on pathetic".

He said the case was highly emotive and his client offered an apology.

From the back of the court, one relative said: "Don't bother."

The court heard McKnight had 56 previous convictions for theft and deception.