Dad 'will sleep by son's grave' to stop council clearing mementoes

Image caption,
Keith Will said he would sleep by his son's grave to stop the council from removing mementoes

The father of a boy who died after being found on fire in an Aberdeen street says he will sleep by his son's grave to prevent mementoes being removed by the city council.

Preston Flores, 7, died after suffering burns to much of his body in the incident on Bedford Avenue in 2014.

His family have received a letter from the council saying items by his grave may be removed by maintenance staff.

Preston's father Keith Will said that would be "just disgraceful".

The council said maintenance of the cemetery would be carried out in a "sensitive and dignified manner".

Preston was badly burned in April 2014 after apparently being drenched in petrol. He died days later in hospital, two days before his eighth birthday.

A police investigation found no criminality had been involved, and no fatal accident inquiry was ordered despite pleas from his family.

Image source, collect
Image caption,
Preston died in April 2014 after he was badly burned near his home in Aberdeen

Preston was buried at Hazlehead Cemetery, and his family recently received a letter from Aberdeen City Council saying that any mementoes placed on the grass in front of the headstones must be removed to allow the grass to be cut safely.

The letter, seen by BBC Scotland, is from the Bereavement Services department.

It reads: "For health and safety reasons, any vase or memento placed in the head ground of a lair must be at least 75mm (3 inches) from the grass edge to allow ground maintenance.

"No glass, mesh/netting, food liquids or any noise emitting items will be allowed. These will be removed immediately without prior notice."

Parents with children in the small baby section at the same cemetery received similar letters earlier this year.

Mr Will told BBC Scotland: "I will sleep in front of my son's grave if I have to, to stop them taking the stuff.

"They are not going to just take it. There wasn't even a date on the letter, they just said they were going to start pulling things out if it's not removed.

"Preston isn't here anymore, we can't buy him gifts for his birthday or Christmas, that's why we leave things here.

"We will do whatever it takes, I will start a petition to stop them removing things. They have already done it in the baby section, it is just disgraceful."

Keith is now calling for a meeting with Aberdeen City Council.

In a statement the local authority said: "This is a standard letter which is issued as and when maintenance of lairs is undertaken.

"We appreciate that this is a sensitive issue for lair owners and would like to assure them that the maintenance of the cemetery is carried out in a sensitive and dignified manner."