Driller killer poisons Sidmouth trees

Council calls in ‘Special Branch’ to root out culprit

A POWER-TOOL-wielding poisoner is being hunted by police after mature trees were drilled into and killed at a cliff-top Sidmouth spot.

Gardeners have been left baffled by “a sophisticated form of vandalism” in the Beatlands Road area.

Several large sycamores and elms, which were up to half a century old, have been bored into and poisoned near Pennington Point.

Green-fingered East Devon District Council (EDDC) workers have been forced to fell any trees deemed a safety hazard and at risk of collapsing onto a public footway.

The authority has contacted police and officers have set about conducting house-to-house inquiries.

“This sort of sophisticated vandalism should not be happening in a place like Sidmouth, where there is a civic group trying to establish it as an arboretum town,” said Councillor Iain Chubb, EDDC cabinet member for the environment.

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“It is a despicable act of wilful damage by someone who clearly knew what it takes to kill a mature tree. This is not some chance incident of a branch being snapped off by a casual vandal - the person who did this meant to ensure that the tree died. We can only speculate as to what their motives might be.”

EDDC gardeners discovered that some trees had been bored into recently with a power tool and poisons had been poured into the holes.

Poisoned trees on rough ground will be allowed to lie where they fall and be absorbed into the natural habitat of the area.

Natural regeneration is taking place, but it could be 30 to 40 years before trees reach the same size as the affected sycamores and elms, said a council spokesman.

Police want to hear from anyone who witnessed the vandalism taking place and will welcome any information on the crimes. Contact officers by dialling 101, crime reference: KS/12/108.

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