A FUNERAL in York was disrupted when teenagers pelted the procession with snowballs.

About 50 mourners in almost 20 vehicles were travelling from York Crematorium following the funeral of 93-year-old mother and grandmother Joan Brown, of Skeldergate.

But as the procession passed Knavesmire, a gang of youths launched the insensitive attack.

Philip Taylor, the manager of Co-Operative Funeralcare, said the incident was distressing for the family – and this was not an isolated incident. Carol Butterfield, Joan’s niece, had travelled from West Yorkshire for the funeral.

She said: “There was nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. We couldn’t turn round. We just had to go with it. They were laughing and giggling and jumping up and down. They were youths, not small children. I would say they were in their early teens.

“Everyone was fuming, but no-one could put their windows down because you could be pelted. It seemed never-ending, but probably lasted about five minutes.

“We were waiting for it to happen, because we could see it happening to the car in front. We were like sitting ducks.”

Mrs Butterfield said the incident last Monday “scared and frightened” the mourners, from teenagers to pensioners, and “made the mood worse”.

Mr Taylor, of Co-Operative Funeralcare, said: “This happens up and down the country. It’s a lack of respect not just to funeral cars but society in general.

“What these lads did by snowballing that car was make that day just that little bit worse for the family.

“The limousine went past the lads after dropping the family off and got pelted again, and the driver stopped to get out and talk to them.

“He explained to them what they had done, that it was a funeral, and they apologised.”

Mrs Butterfield said: “I sincerely hope that when these youths are paying a last tribute to a loved one, nothing like this ever happens to them. No-one should have this kind of distress added to that of a sad ceremonial occasion as we did. They should be ashamed of themselves.”

Mr Taylor said: “I would send a message to every single young person out there that when they are enjoying the snow, as we all do, and look up and think ‘shall I throw a snowball at that car?’, they should consider whether it could go through the windscreen, hit the driver and cause a crash, and also think how it would feel if they were sitting in the back of the car after cremating their grandparent and were suddenly pelted with snowballs.”

A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said: “We don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun, but would remind people that throwing snowballs at moving vehicles is irresponsible and potentially dangerous.”