A bereaved father has said that whoever set fire to a memorial garden created for his late teenage daughter in Leeds is responsible for a “terrible act of destruction”.
The space for friends of Natasha Elliott – who died aged 16 in 2010 after being hit by a train near Morley station while trying to coax her pet dog Zeus off the railway crossing – has been ruined.
Mementos such as photographs, teddy bears and a mural left and created by friends and family have been destroyed.
It is believed a group of teenagers set the ground alight next to the crossing on July 4.
Natasha’s father Wayne, 50, said: “Everything’s gone. They’ve destroyed it. Most of that area was wilderness after it [her death] happened. Her friends got spades and wheelbarrows and dug it all out.”
He added: “It’s hard to believe somebody could be so nasty to do it. It meant a lot to a lot of people. The people who have done it probably never had known our Tasha. She had a lot of friends, brilliant friends, she was well-loved.”
There is another memorial on Wesley Street, because Wayne did not want to encourage Natasha’s friends to go to the railway memorial on their own, especially at night.
But that is where they like to go as it is where the tragedy happened.
Natasha’s grandfather Tony, has made several crosses to place in the garden over the years and her grandmother, Jennifer, created a false flower feature after the original ones died. Tony said: “I used to come down quite regularly with my strimmer and cut the grass when the kids came down.
“They all left it tidy, sat on the bench and reminisced over old times.”
Natasha’s friends are planning on recreating the garden, and so far more than £700 has been raised to go towards it.
Wayne said: “I think it’s a terrible act of destruction. How would they feel if it was their daughter or sister and somebody did it to them?”