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Council staff remove tributes to daughter

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 01, 2012


A horrified mother has condemned a council which removed a shrine to her dead daughter – because of one complaint describing it as "litter".

Three people have been charged with murder after the body of 23-year-old Catherine Wells-Burr was found in her burned-out car in a layby on the A358, at Ashill, near Chard.

Touching tributes left at the scene by family and friends were bagged-up by a council clean-up crew after one person complained that it frightened a horse.

Catherine's heartbroken parents were then forced to pick through rubbish to recover the precious mementos.

Devastated mother Jayne Wells-Burr was forced to sift through the contents of three black bin bags to find cards, candles and photos.

She said: "I felt sick having to go through the bin bags. We found some lovely bouquets which had only been placed there on Saturday by friends who had come down from London.

"I know some of the flowers had died, but just seeing them there showed us how much Catherine was loved by so many people. Every day there was something new there."

The complainant is believed to have told South Somerset District Council that the cellophane on flowers was frightening horses.

Catherine's father Phil said: "The flowers and candles weren't doing any harm to anyone."

Mrs Wells-Burr said: "We've been treating that spot as Catherine's last resting place, and we go there every day to lay flowers and light little candles, and think about her.

"We know it's not forever, but it's all we've got at the moment because Catherine's body hasn't been released and we haven't been able to have a funeral. This was our special spot, but it has been tarnished by what has happened. I can't believe the council could be so uncaring."

South Somerset District Council said it acted sympathetically and was only tidying up the makeshift shrine after receiving a complaint from a resident.

A spokesman said: "We responded to a complaint from a resident regarding a litter issue at the same site as a temporary memorial site for Catherine Wells-Burr.

"When our operatives attended the scene, they started to clear items away from the area which included dead flowers and their wrappings.

"That left a loose photo there together with plastic flowers and butterflies, candles and candle stick holders and some small toy animals.

"Our operatives put all the items together and fixed the photo so that it didn't blow away."

Catherine, known as Caf, lived in Chard, had just achieved a first class degree in Business Management at Bath Spa University. She went on to work as a business analyst at manufacturing firm Numatic International – best known for its iconic Henry vacuum cleaners.

Hundreds of bouquets of flowers and tributes were left at the scene where her red Ford Focus was found burning. Less than 20 bouquets remained yesterday.

Catherine's body was discovered on September 12 this year. Three people have now appeared in court charged with her murder.

Tadevsz Dmytryszyn, 38, appeared at Bristol Magistrates Court on Wednesday charged with murder.

Catherine's former boyfriend, Polish national Rafal Nowak, 31, and fellow Pole Anna Lagwinowicz, 33, have already been charged.

A provisional trial date has been set for April 2013.

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