YOBS went on a wrecking spree, tearing out benches at a nature reserve.

Now the Essex Wildlife Trust will have to fork out more than £1,000 to repair the damage at the Stanford Warren nature reserve, off Mucking Wharf Road, Stanford-le-Hope.

Vandals tore out three new wrought iron benches, hurling one of them into a ditch, and one into the River Hassenbrook.

The benches had been put in just two months ago, at a cost of around £500 each, to give ramblers and birdwatchers a place to sit and enjoy the reserve.

The area includes one of the biggest reed beds in Essex and is home to wildlife including voles and many species of insect and bird.

Sandra Still, who has been a warden at the beauty spot for the past 25 years, said staff had been devastated to see the damage.

She said: “It’s completely mindless.

“We’re all volunteers here and it makes you wonder why you put all the hard work in for these people to come along and spoil it for everyone.

“It makes you wonder what sort of mind could get satisfaction out of doing something like this.”

Last year yobs set fire to reeds at the reserve, destroying about three acres of the plants.

The trust also had to put up new gates around the reserve to keep out yobs on bikes.

Police have been called in to investigate the most recent incident.

Laura Anderson, police spokesman said: “This nature reserve exists for the enjoyment of everyone and for a few people to wreck it is utterly selfish.

“Anyone who knows who did this should report them to police, as their actions should not go unpunished.”

A gang of six youths was seen in the area at the time.

They were all white, one wore a hoodie and another was about 6ft tall.

Witnesses to the incident, sometime between 5pm on Tuesday and 9am the next day, are asked to call Corringham police on 0300 3334444.