‘Those memories are gone’

Linda Speight with the memorial tree she planted in memory of her fiance, Paul.
Linda Speight with the memorial tree she planted in memory of her fiance, Paul.

Devastated Linda Speight says memories of her fiance have been snatched away by thieves who stole her mobile phone.

The mum-of-two was visiting her mother in Temple Street, Castleford, last Friday when she realised she had left her Samsung Galaxy Fit phone in her van.

But when she returned ten minutes later, she found opportunist crooks had smashed a window and stolen the device, which contained several irreplaceable messages and pictures of her late partner, Paul Wilks, who she lost to oesophageal cancer last year.

Miss Speight, of Beancroft Street, Castleford, said: “I’m upset and annoyed that someone could do this.

“The phone isn’t worth a lot of money, but there’s texts and pictures on there that can’t be replaced.

“I feel lost without it, everything feels empty.”

Mr Wilks, 51, was diagnosed with the disease in October 2011 and told he had between one and two years to live – but the cancer was aggressive and the former solider died in August last year.

Miss Speight said as well as text messages from her partner of 18 years, the phone also contained pictures of the two of them together, and messages from friends in the days leading up to Mr Wilks’ death at St James’ Hospital in Leeds.

She said: “People from around the world were texting asking for updates on Paul, like his army friends. I’ve never deleted those messages because they were the messages I sent to people about his progress.

“They were my last few memories of that week. I just wish I had backed them up somehow, but I never thought this would happen.”

Miss Speight, who says she suffers with a bad memory, hopes whoever stole her phone will return it.

She said: “I would like my phone back because it means a lot to me. It’s caused such a lot of damage and upset. I just don’t need that on top of the difficult year I have had.

“If I don’t get my phone back, those memories are gone. The phone isn’t worth a lot of money, but it’s something that can’t be replaced.”

Sgt Mike Astill of Castleford neighbourhood policing team is appealing for anyone with information about the incident to come forward.

He said: “Any form of theft is an unfortunate thing to suffer but this incident is made even more so as Miss Speight has also lost some irreplaceable memories of her late partner.

“I sincerely hope that the culprit reads this report and their conscience gets the better of them. Similarly, if anybody knows anything about the whereabouts of the phone or who is responsible for the theft, contact the police or arrange for the phone to be returned.”

The incident occurred just before 8pm on October 11. The phone is described as having a white back, silver front, and in a pink leather flip case.

Anyone with information is asked to call the police on 101 or 01924 295583.