CPS reviews Peak District tomb row decision

By Jonathan Kalmus, March 21, 2014

The Crown Prosecution Service is reviewing its decision not to prosecute a man who bulldozed a historic Jewish burial ground.

Landowner Anthony Bevis flattened 100-year-old tombs in woodland in the Peak District, near Sheffield.

They contained the remains of 15 members of the Bright family, who were founding members of Sheffield’s Jewish community and leading lights in the city’s steel trade.

Cymone De-Lara-Bond, a descendant of the family, has been campaigning for a prosecution since 2012, after South Yorkshire Police and the CPS said they would not charge Mr Bevis with criminal damage.

Ms De-Lara-Bond said she and other members of the family owned the unique, beehive-shaped mausoleums, which, she claimed, were protected under the law.

She said: “The CPS is reviewing this case a third time after I challenged them, and I’m awaiting their response.

“I just want them to explain why in law Mr Bevis owns those monuments and why it isn’t criminal damage.”

Dr Sharman Kadish, of Jewish Heritage UK, said the case set a “worrying precedent” for Jewish burial grounds around the country.

“The failure to take action means it could be a free-for-all for developers to bulldoze burial grounds with impunity.”

The CPS confirmed it was reviewing the matter, but declined to comment further.

The Ministry of Justice, which has ultimate responsibility for burial grounds, confirmed disturbance of tombs or graves “was a potential criminal offence”.

Last updated: 10:45am, March 21 2014