Mum keeps vigil at baby’s grave to prevent theft of ‘precious momentos’

Kelly Watson lost her baby, Tmara-Rose, 28 minutes after her birth
Kelly Watson lost her baby, Tmara-Rose, 28 minutes after her birth

A heartbroken mum spent four hours in pitch darkness protecting her baby daughter’s grave after callous thieves stole keepsakes from the plot

Kelly Watson lost her baby, Tmara-Rose, 28 minutes after her birth almost four years ago and was horrified on Sunday to discover items had been taken from her grave.

Kelly Watson lost her baby, Tmara-Rose, four years ago

Kelly Watson lost her baby, Tmara-Rose, four years ago

Kelly, who has three other children, a boy aged 12 and two girls aged 10 and five, visits Tmara-Rose’s grave most Sundays. She said she visited the plot a month ago and, despite thunder and rain, she scrubbed the grave and put down fresh stones.

The grave has many mementoes left to honour the little baby.

To her mum and family, these are precious gifts, some celebrating birthdays and some Christmas presents Tmara-Rose never had.

Kelly, 31, explained that many of the gifts were not just from her but from other members of the extended family, and each item was cherished.

She revealed how she discovered she was pregnant with Tmara-Rose but received the dreadful news at 23 weeks that her baby was suffering from Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH).

This is a rare illness and occurs when the diaphragm muscle – the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen – fails to close during prenatal development, and the contents from the abdomen (stomach, intestines and/or liver) migrate into the chest through this hole.

Kelly said: “I found out at 23 weeks and they offered me an abortion but I said no. I told them she is kicking, she is alive.”

On October 11, 2015, she was born – at just 32 weeks into term, and survived 28 minutes.

“She was just so perfect,” said Kelly, who revealed she has suffered badly from depression since her baby’s death.

Kelly, who lives in Laurelvale with her partner Chris and their three children, said since her baby daughter’s funeral, she has visited her grave at Kernan Cemetery regularly.

“I would go on her birthday and leave a gift, or at Christmas. I even left gifts there that were given to her by family members,” she said.

She revealed that solar-powered lights she had installed had disappeared as had a ‘daughter’ plaque with a verse on it as well as two other plaques. A round black stone also with Tmara-Rose’s name and a verse inscribed on it has also been taken.

“It just looks bare now,” said Kelly. “Her grave is all I have of her now.”

Kelly revealed she was so upset at the thefts that on Monday she spent four-and-a-half hours, in pitch black, at her daughter’s graveside.

“I wanted to protect the grave,” she said.

“To find her grave like this so close to her fourth birthday – my heart is ripped to pieces. It’s a sick, sick thing to do”.

A spokesperson for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council said: “We are very sorry to hear of this distressing incident and would offer our sympathies to the family involved. We would wholeheartedly condemn theft from any grave within our cemeteries and would appeal to those involved to return this important memorabilia.

“The cemetery is manned during the day, however as most people will understand cemeteries are large, open sites which cannot be fully monitored continuously.

“As this is a theft of personal items we would urge the family to report this matter to the police.”