A MAN who vandalised a baby’s grave on six occasions has been told to return to court in January as magistrates consider whether he should be jailed.

Mark Plaister pleaded guilty to six counts of criminal damage after destroying the grave of Maggie Bernasconi-Parsons, who was still-born in 2015, between May and June.
The victim, Sarah Bernasconi-Parsons, has raised money to try to help parents who suffer the pain of a stillbirth or infant death.

Burnley Magistrates Court was told that Plaister, 35, of Malvern Avenue, Padiham, first targeted Maggie’s grave on May 21.

Prosecuting, Stacey Morrow said: “The victim, Sarah Bernasconi-Parsons, runs fundraising groups for bereaved families and opened a secret garden at the crematorium in Pleasington. She knew of the defendant as someone who also attended the graveyard regularly.

“On May 21, the defendant sent the victim a Facebook message asking if she had moved things from Maggie’s grave as it looked empty.

“The victim attended and noticed items including two angels, a teddy bear and a butterfly were gone.

“The defendant was also at the cemetery and Mrs Bernasconi-Parsons thanked him for letting her know, to which the defendant replied ‘no problem, I thought I’d let you know because things have been going missing from my grave too’.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Mark PlaisterMark Plaister

The court heard that Maggie's grave was then vandalised again on June 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, with ornaments being trashed and scattered in nearby woods.

The incidents were reported to the police and a hidden wildlife camera was put up by the cemetery.

READ: Anger as thieves steal from baby daughter's grave at Pleasington Crematorium

Ms Morrow told the court that when the camera was checked on June 19, it showed the defendant approaching the grave and kicking the ornaments.

She added: "He was arrested and interviewed and provided full admissions but no explanation as to why he did what he did."

In a victim impact statement, Mrs Bernasconi-Parsons said the ordeal had destroyed her and husband, Mark, causing them nightmares to the point they were paranoid about not being able to be at the grave.

Lancashire Telegraph:

She also said they felt Maggie's memory had been violated by the defendant.

Plaister's defence solicitor, Jonathon Taylor, said there were clearly some underlying issues but his client fully accepted his wrong doing despite not being able to explain his actions.

Plaister, who had also lost a child around the same time as Mrs Bernasconi-Parsons and whose grave was located not far from Maggie’s, has four convictions for 21 previous offences of a similar nature.

Magistrates adjourned the hearing so probation officers could prepare a report and consider all sentencing options, including custody.

Lancashire Telegraph: Sarah Bernasconi (34) and her partner, Mark Parsons (36), of Mitton Close, Blackburn lost their daughter, Maggie Pearl, who was stillborn in 2015. Sarah Bernasconi (34) and her partner, Mark Parsons (36), of Mitton Close, Blackburn lost their daughter, Maggie Pearl, who was stillborn in 2015.

Speaking after the sentencing was adjourned, Mrs Berlusconi-Parsons said: “I am really happy with what the magistrates said. A custodial sentence would be no less than what he deserves.

"The last six months have been horrific and it's so important for us to get justice.

"I feel a tiny bit of relief knowing this is now being taken seriously."