A grieving mum has been left devastated after her baby’s grave was dug up… days after what would have been his first birthday.

Alfie Cox was stillborn at 21 weeks at Southend Hospital and is buried at Sutton Road Cemetery, Southend. His parents Emma, 38, and Danny Cox, 32, of Rectory Avenue, Ashingdon, along with big brother Jamie, six, visit him every week.

But on Sunday, the horrified family arrived to discover Alfie’s lovingly attended plot dug up. All his flowers, decorations and even the cross with his name on had been removed - and another baby’s name was on the grave.

Emma, who is pregnant, sobbed: “I’m so angry and upset.

“All Alfie’s birthday flowers and decorations had been cast aside and his grave dug up. We had no idea this could happen. No one has contacted us at all.

“It was just such a shock.”

After the family’s horrible discovery, Emma and Danny checked through all of their paperwork relating to Alfie’s burial and realised Alfie’s grave could be shared with one other baby.

But Emma said: “I signed that paperwork, allowing Southend Hospital to organise his burial, the day Alfie was born. We were obviously not looking at every detail and were both extremely exhausted and emotional.

“Neither of us remember this being mentioned. What we don’t understand is why no one contacted us ahead of this happening? If that had happened we would have been able to ask if there were alternative options.

“And what happens next? How is it right they can do this? What confuses us even more is the new baby has a different plot number to Alfie – which appears to relate to the adjacent plot.

“I’m terrified of going to the cemetery next and the other family will have decorated Alfie’s grave – with no idea that Alfie is there.

“We just don’t know what to do. I almost want to dig him up myself.”

Denise Townsend, director of nursing at Southend Hospital, was very concerned to hear what had happened. She said: “We are very sorry that Mrs Cox has experienced this distressing situation.

“We understand that the period during which Mrs Cox signed the consent for her baby to be buried in a shared plot was a very emotional time. In light of Mrs Cox’s experience, we have amended our consent form to include additional details about interments in shared graves that is printed in our support booklets, to make this information more prominent.”

A Southend Council spokesman added: “The council works closely with the hospital who offer the parents the option of a dignified burial or cremation.”