An “ashamed” thief who stole five D-Day memorial plaques has owned up to his actions – and returned one of the plaques with an apology letter and over £200 in cash.
The brass plaques, which bore the names of each Normandy beach landing – Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha, and Utah – were stolen from Castle Park in Bristol on September 2.
They had been unveiled in front of five silver birch trees in the park less than three months earlier, on June 6, to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
But yesterday (Weds), the man behind it said in an apology letter that he was “ashamed and shocked” by his “drunken state” – and sent back one of the plaques, along with £205 in cash.
The anonymous vandal wrote: “I hope this donation along with the plaque I returned can go some way to making up for the distress and upset that my actions have caused.
“I am very ashamed and shocked that I was capable of such a destructive act.
“Whilst I don’t want to use my drunken state as an excuse, I am certain that this is something I would never usually do.
“I can assure you that I will never act in such a disrespectful manner again.
“At the time I was unaware of the significance of the plaques in Castle Park.
“I have nothing but respect for the veterans and the sacrifices that they have made for this country.”
He ended the letter by writing: “Once again I would like to offer a sincere apology for my actions and all of the hassle that has come as a result of them.”
Paul Turner, secretary of the Bristol and Warmley Veteran’s Group, said he was “taken aback” by the letter’s honesty and sincerity, and that the person – or people – behind it are forgiven.
He said: “I would like to chat to them to say I appreciate they have had the backbone to face up to what they have done.
“It takes a man to apologise when he has done something wrong.
“I’ve told the police investigating not to waste their time. If officers came back to me asking if I wish to press charges, I’d say no. They are forgiven,” Mr Turner added.
Since the theft two weeks ago, the Keynsham-based veterans’ group has received more than £1,500 in donations.
A man in Hengrove delivered £250 by hand to the group’s treasurer, and money also came from a woman in Temple Cloud in Somerset.
One plaque was returned by a canoeist who found it in water next to the park while another was received by BristolLive in the post last week.
The money will go towards replacement plaques which, unlike the previous ones fixed to the ground, will be screwed onto the trees above head height.