The mother of a murdered teenager has been ordered to remove tributes from her son’s grave, in the week which marks the anniversary of his death.Advertisement
Jon-Jo Highton, 18, was murdered by a street attack by gang members armed with machetes, knives, an axe and a samurai sword.
His devastated mother Tracey, 43, who regularly looks after Jon-Jo’s son Taylor, now four, visits his grave at Preston Cemetery almost daily to spend time with her son.
She has even bought the burial plot beside Jon-Jo’s so that when her time comes she can be laid to rest beside her tragic son.
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But this week she has been dealt a bitter blow after receiving a letter from Preston City Council ordering her to remove the monuments from Jon-Jo’s grave.
A letter sent to Tracey at her home in Deepdale, Preston, states: “During a routine survey of the cemetery it has come to our attention that the memorials placed on the grave you own do not comply with the cemetery and crematorium rules and regulations.”
The letter, which arrived on August 20 but is dated August 4, gives Tracey 28 days to remove the memorials, after which they may be removed by the council.
Speaking on the second anniversary of Jon-Jo’s murder, heartbroken Tracey says: “If they dig this up it will destroy me. They are just going to destroy the last little bit of heart I have left.
“When Jon-Jo was killed, half of me died too.
“Coming here and making his resting place as beautiful as I can is one of the few things that keeps me here.
“I keep it tidy and we spend a lot of time and money looking after the grave. I bring my trimmer down for the grass.
“I’ll lie down and I’ll sleep here at night if I have to.”
September 15 marks the date Jon-Jo would have celebrated his 21st birthday.
To mark the occasion Tracey has been organising a fundraiser for Knife Crime and Victim Support
She says: “I am trying to help people. I can’t believe they are doing this to me after everything I have been through.
“I only received the letter on Saturday, a couple of days before his anniversary. I’m worried I’ll run out of time to do anything.”
Read more: Nine men jailed for stabbing of Jon-Jo
Tracey is one of a number of bereaved families to have received letters about their graves at Preston Cemetery in recent weeks.
The family of Liam Hewitson, 22, who died when he was mauled by a dog as he was suffering an epileptic seizure, have also been told Liam’s grave does not comply and they must remove memorials from the plot.
A spokesman for Preston City Council said: “We understand that tending the grave of a loved one can be a treasured and sensitive time, and some people want to add personal touches as part of this process.
“At the same time, this is a lawned cemetery and we need to maintain the cemetery for the benefit of all users.
“Where there are a large number of memorials on a grave this causes difficulties for people attending burials at adjacent graves and also makes it difficult to carry out maintenance tasks such as grass cutting.