'Terrorised' over son's grave
THE parents of drowned Mary Valley youngster Alex Johnson are hurt and angry over their treatment at the hands of the Kandanga cemetery committee which they believe removed keepsakes, including Alex's favourite toy, from his grave.
Still trying to come to terms with the loss of his five-year-old son just six months ago, Wally Johnson said that while the pain of Alex's death had eased a little from those first few weeks, he would never get over it.
It was Wally who discovered Alex's body and pulled it from a dam at Dagun on July 23, last year.
But it was Alex's mum, Debbie, who discovered three weeks ago that her son's treasured yellow Tonka truck and other keepsakes left at the grave by family and friends, had been taken away.
Cemetery volunteers and Gympie Regional Council yesterday denied removing the keepsakes, which Wally found "thrown in a heap" in an apparent clean-up at the grounds.
Mayor Ron Dyne confirmed there was a move to restore the cemetery and that the treatment of the Johnsons had been "unfortunate".
But he also said he understood where both sides were coming from.
Cr Dyne offered to visit the family to discuss what had occurred.
A group of local volunteers runs the cemetery. A visit to the cemetery yesterday revealed other graves surrounded by keepsakes.
The Johnsons say they received four letters from those running the cemetery, and that some of the letters asked them to remove the keepsakes.
The first letter was found by a friend three months after Alex died, wrapped in plastic and left on the grave.
"The letters started in October. They terrorised us. I feel like we have been targeted and I don't know why," Wally said this week. He said he offered to do the mowing around the grave every week if the committee would let the keepsakes stay. But he was told no.
Wally removed a small picket fence from the grave at Christmas time and placed the keepsakes near the plaque so they didn't interfere with mowing. When Debbie discovered them gone Wally was furious.
"It takes a lot to get me wound up, but I reckon these guys are the lowest of the lowest scabby scumbags.
"They took (the truck) off without our permission. I said you can take everything else away but you are not to take the truck. That's what got me wound up."
Wally and Debbie have since been given permission to leave the truck on Alex's grave.
"I just told them (the truck) had to stay and I don't want it shifted," Wally said.
"All the other stuff has been put on the memorial plaque in Dagun."