A GRIEF-STRICKEN family have hit out at a heartless vandal who desecrated the grave of their much-loved relative.

The attack on Tom Steele’s headstone took place just weeks after he was laid to rest in the family plot at Abbey Cemetery, in Elderslie.

Tom, who had cerebral palsy and epilepsy, died in hospital after suffering a heart attack.

His ashes were interred and his name added to the family headstone.

However, loved ones were horrified to discover that paint had been daubed over the bottom of the stone, obliterating his name.

Tom’s older sister, Margaret Cooper, said his family have been left devastated and struggling to understand why his final resting place would be targeted.

No other headstones in the cemetery were damaged.

The family fear that whoever was responsible knew Tom and may have a personal grudge.

Margaret, 75, who lives in Bridge of Weir, said relatives are visiting the cemetery on a regular basis to make sure there is no further damage.

She told The Gazette: “When Tommy died, it came as a great shock and caused a great deal of upset.

“He was much loved by everyone and we were just coming to terms with his passing when this happened.

“Although Tom did not enjoy the best of health, he was a very clever man and had an interesting life.

“Whoever did this knew that Tom had just passed away and his name had been added to the stone.

“It was a disgusting thing to do and we have asked the police to investigate.

“We want whoever vandalised the headstone brought to justice.”

The Gazette: Tom Steele died after suffering a heart attackTom Steele died after suffering a heart attack

Six family members, including Tom’s parents, Margaret and William, have been laid to rest in the lair over the last 50 years and two headstones carry their names.

Tom’s ashes were the most recent addition to the plot.

The family have been told it will cost several hundred pounds to have the paint removed and the stone restored.

Tom was originally from Johnstone but had recently been living in sheltered accommodation in the Anderston area of Glasgow.

For 30 years, he worked at a factory in Hillington, alongside other people with disabilities, making beds.

Tom’s older brother Jim, 77, reported the vandalism to the police.

Jim, a retired builder from Kilbarchan, said: “Whoever did this deliberately painted over Tom’s name in a straight line with a paint brush and obliterated it.

“They have desecrated his grave and the police have told me that is a criminal act.”

A police spokeswoman said “Enquiries are ongoing after we received a report of vandalism to a headstone within Abbey Cemetery, Elderslie.”

Anyone who has information is asked to call 101.