FURIOUS residents confronted a yob vandalising Southend’s Cenotaph with black spray paint - just weeks before the D-Day 80th anniversary.

A teenager was spotted spray painting graffiti on the wall surrounding the 103-year-old war memorial, in Clifftown Parade, and has been slammed by residents and councillors.

The Cenotaph will be central to plans for the commemoration of D-Day, on June 6, and Southend Council worked quickly to remove the graffiti on Friday afternoon.

Two residents, who asked only to be identified as Mr and Mrs Mortlock, shouted at the vandal to stop and claim he was “threatening and verbally abusive” before fleeing the scene.

They fear the graffiti would have been much worse if they had not got involved.

Mr Mortlock said: “My wife and I shouted loudly for him to stop and approached him telling him to stop again.

“We made a lot of noise to attempt to discourage him. He then approached us and was verbally abusive and threatening before fleeing on his bike.

“When we first realised what was happening it was hard to comprehend that someone would have the audacity and ignorance to deface a place of such significance. We were in disbelief.

“It is hard to comprehend that someone would choose the war memorial, a traditional symbol of mourning and respect, to damage with such unimaginable ignorance.

“We are now two weeks away from the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings and this behaviour feels particularly hurtful and disrespectful.

“War rages mercilessly throughout the world and meanwhile this entitled individual de-faces a monument dedicated to those who died for his freedom.”

The incident has been reported to Essex Police, and Southend Council’s street cleansing partner Veolia has since removed the graffiti.

Martin Terry, councillor responsible for community safety, was outraged to hear of the vandalism.

He added: “We are disgusted by the graffiti on Southend’s much-loved Cenotaph. Such acts of mindless vandalism and desecration of our memorials are intolerable and have no place in our community.

“This crime is not only offensive but also deeply upsetting to many residents, particularly so close to the D-Day 80 celebrations.

“Our street cleansing partners Veolia received the report and removed the graffiti swiftly. We urge anyone with information about these incidents to contact Essex Police on 101.”

Essex Police has been contacted for comment by the Echo.