A CHURCH warden has slammed “mindless vandals” for causing hundreds of pounds of damage to a stone memorial and leaving broken glass bottles in a Penarth graveyard.

The St Augustine’s Church warden has accused those responsible of disrespecting the church and appealed for the police to step up patrols in the area.

Penarth Police condemned the vandals and vowed that “incidents of this nature will not be tolerated”.

Church warden Robert Williams said youngsters congregated in the graveyard on Friday and Saturday nights and often left discarded bottles, cans and drug paraphernalia around the grounds.

On one Sunday morning he said they had to clear around a dozen smashed glass bottles before that morning’s service.

A stone cross memorial was also damaged. The memorial could cost hundreds of pounds to repair, with the church unable to afford the cost of hiring a stonemason to repair it or trace the family and ask them to pay for it.

On Sunday, August 24, the lid of the rubbish bin was also torn off, while a few weeks ago a floodlight was smashed through its metal crate. Pornographic material has also been left in the church grounds.

Mr Williams said he had reported the vandalism to police who agreed to step up patrols.

He has appealed for local residents to notify the police if they see anything suspicious.

Mr Williams, who has been a church warden for the last five years, said: “They seem to congregate in this area and leave bottles, glasses and cans around the place. There is also a strong suspicion that there is drug dealing going on.”

He added that vandalism and anti-social behaviour had got much worse over the last six months.

“It’s massively frustrating as its just wanton vandalism,” he said. “There is no respect for the church whatsoever."

Penarth PCSO Rhys Allen, who regularly patrols the area, said: “I know Penarth residents will be concerned that people are wantonly disrespecting grounds which are a place of rest for family members and friends which they have lost. The damage caused at St Augustine’s Church graveyard is a concern and I would like to reassure the public that incidents of this nature will not be tolerated. Officers have already stepped up patrols in the area but I would ask for the help of residents in identifying those responsible. I would also encourage people to be vigilant and to report suspicious activity to police on 101.”