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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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North Cumbrian family devastated after thugs snap memorial tree

Sick vandals have “destroyed” a family after wrecking a poignant tribute to a young woman.

Cath McNeil tree photo
From left, Peter and Shirley McNeil and Tracey Crossman

Cath McNeil was just 20 when she was killed in a car crash near Caldbeck. Her devastated family planted a cherry blossom tree near their home in Greenacres, Wigton, in her memory.

The tree, which also has a large plaque in front of it, has stood undisturbed for the last four years.

But Miss McNeil’s brother-in-law Andi Crossman was horrified to learn that the tree had been vandalised some time last weekend.

Mr Crossman, 30, who refers to Miss McNeil as his sister because they were such a close-knit family, said: “This has destroyed us all. I got a phone call on the Sunday morning from a mate who was walking his dog when he noticed what had happened.

“He told me that the tree had been wrecked so I went straight over there.

“It has black fencing around it, which had all been knocked over, and the tree was bent in half and snapped.”

Mr Crossman and his wife Tracey, who have one-year-old twins, believe their family has been targeted.

He added: “The worst thing about it is that there’s a plaque in front of the tree so whoever did it knew it was a memorial.

“I’ve tried to tape the tree back together but I don’t think it will survive.”

Mr Crossman, who works at steel manufacturer J and J Nichol in Carlisle, had to break the news to Miss McNeil’s mother Shirley.

He said: “It’s the last thing you want to have to tell someone.

“She feels it’s an attack on her daughter

“I don’t know many who would be capable of something like this.”

Andi’s wife and Miss McNeil’s sister, Tracey Crossman, added: “We would appeal for anyone with any information to come forward because whoever did this should be prosecuted – they cannot get away with it.”

Miss McNeil was a passenger in a car which ploughed into a tree near Brocklebank, on the Red Dial to Caldbeck road, in February 2009.

She was airlifted to Newcastle General Hospital but died the following day.

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