HEARTLESS vandals have cut down more than 400 trees in a Rochford memorial garden.

The saplings were planted in Cherry Orchard Park in Rochford to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.

A ceremony saw 470 trees put in - one for every person from Rochford who died in the war.

But yobs have destroyed every single one and Len James, from the Hockley branch of the Royal British Legion, says he is disgusted.

He said: “I’m appalled at the mentality of people and I sincerely hope someone has some CCTV. It’s disgusting that they can do that.

"I can understand they can go and do one or two, but not all of them.

“You can’t understand the mentality of someone going in there and cutting them all down. Who would do it?

“It’s something that has been put up for the people of Rochford to remember people from there that died in the war.

"There are a lot of sick people out there and I hope they catch them.”

The trees, in the park off of Cherry Orchard Way, Rochford, were planted in a joint collaboration between the Western Front Association, the Woodland Trust and Rochford District Council.

Jo McPherson, Rochford District Councillor for the environment, spoke about the vandalism at a recent Rochford District Council meeting.

She said: “Sadly all the saplings have been deliberately cut by an unknown individual or individuals.

“We await to see how many will produce new shoots in the spring that are suitable to promote as a replacement.”

Keith Gordon, Rochford District Councillor, wanted to know when the trees would be replanted.

He added: “It’s disgusting.

“We planted it around March. Woodlands trust had given us all the saplings and had a ceremony, it was lovely. The chairman planted the saplings, the weather was bad but it was a lovely thing.

“More questions will be asked on how this has happened and why nothing has been done about it.”

The incident is the latest in a spate of vandalism in Rochford.

In December the towns Christmas tree was cut down.

A 15-year-old boy from Rochford, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted criminal damage when he appeared at Southend Youth Court.

Magistrates ordered the teenager to comply with a six-month referral order and pay back £600 to Rochford Parish Council.