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Armagh woman’s heartbreak after treasured plaque stolen from lifelong friend’s grave

Paul Killen grave Armagh

An Armagh woman has spoken of her heartbreak – and disgust – after a precious plaque to a lifelong friend was stolen from his grave in St Patrick’s graveyard last week.

Linda Mullan says she was left unable to eat, such was the depth of heartache she felt when she discovered a personalised plaque was snatched from the grave of her friend, Paul Killen.

Paul passed away in his sleep on the morning of New Year’s Eve – he was just 53.

Linda, who said his passing was a “terrible shock” to her, wanted to place a little memento on his grave.

It was a plaque in the shape of a book which displayed the words, ‘In Loving memory of a dear Friend Paul – Those we love don’t go away, they stay beside us everyday’.

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“Me and Paul had been friends a lifetime and I just wanted to do something nice,” said Linda. “I went up to the graveyard with my brother on Sunday to visit mummy and daddy’s grave, and every time I go up, I always go around to Paul’s and my other friend’s grave. I went up and the plaque was gone.

“Initially, I thought maybe one of Paul’s brothers cleared the grave to seed it as it’s still only soil at the minute, so I contacted the family who didn’t remove any of the items.

“It is absolutely heartbreaking and really so discouraging; I just couldn’t believe it. I came home and I told my husband and he was absolutely disgusted. I couldn’t eat or anything, I was that annoyed.

“I even went around the graveyard with my friend around checking in case it was mistakenly placed somewhere else. I was looking at the skip, which was full, wondering if someone had placed it in there – I don’t know, I was just thinking everything.

“It felt like a personal attack on me because it really, really hurt me – I just thought the world of Paul.”

Linda, who has heard of others having items stolen from graves, says she didn’t put Paul’s second name on the plaque which may have made it more of a target to unscrupulous thieves.

“When I was buying it I was told to sign it because there are people lifting these things so I wrote a lovely message on the back with permanent marker but it was lifted anyway.  I don’t know what people are thinking, only the lowest of the low can do something like that.

“I can go and get him another one, that’s not an issue, but it’s the fact someone had taken it and that’s what really hurts. When you think all of those plaques to mums, dads, grandparents, people can just go in and lift them – it’s disgusting what these people are doing.”

The whole incident has reignited a heartache for Linda who was still coming to terms with her friend’s passing at such a young age.

“Paul’s death was a terrible shock, it took an awful lot out of me. We have our own families but Paul and I would have always kept in contact,” she added.

“He was in Armagh in October but my poor mom had just passed away in September – my dad in April before that. His father had turned 80 in October but I didn’t get down to the event because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. He had only come back from Mayo, where he had been living, for a couple of days just for his daddy’s 80th.

“I never got to see him at the time and then he died on New Year’s Eve. Now I’m sort of regretting that I didn’t go – I never got saying goodbye to him.”

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