A FLORAL tribute depicting an ATM Machine put alongside the grave of armed robber Thomas Curtis has been vandalised in a Fenland churchyard.
The attack has drawn attention to the extraordinary display of tongue in cheek tributes to the 29 year-old Elm man who was founded hanged in his cell at Norwich Prison.
Displays showing Red Diesel, a Post Office sign, wads of imitation cash, a bolt cutter and lock and even a mobile phone litter the grave inside the village cemetery.
The vandalism is thought to have happened early today following publication of The Sun which lashed out at the “sick graveside tributes”.
The paper quoted Charlotte Mackie, 40, who works in an Essex pub where Curtis and other gang members had stolen an ATM, as saying: “It’s sick. It’s fair enough that they want to remember him — but this is almost bragging about how good a criminal he was.
“I can’t see why they’d make a statement honouring the bad things he did.”
Earlier this month his family had spoken movingly of how Thomas - known as Tom and the father of two boys - had distanced himself from his criminal past.
His widow Edna had descried how Tom had made a fresh start since being freed last summer after serving five years of the 12 year sentence for his part in the armed raids. He had been part of a gang that had stolen more than £1 million during a 12 month spree across East Anglia.
In December Tom was recalled to prison for an alleged breach of his licence and 11 days later was found hanged in his cell.
His sister Lizellen said: “Tom may have served a sentence for a crime and serve it he has. He was only human and we all make mistakes.
“You couldn’t wish for a better brother and we feel he should be remembered for the positives, not just for the negatives.”
The prison service is yet to reveal details of why Tom was recalled. An inquiry is now under way to establish what happened.
Seven people, mostly travellers, were jailed for their parts in the year long crime wave when the gang was linked to a 32 robberies, nearly 70 cash point thefts and 40 smash and grab raids.