Sidmouth ‘jewel’ damaged as 100 kids descend on gardens

ALCOHOL fuelled teens turned vandals and tarnished the ‘jewel of Sidmouth’ when 100 youths invaded Connaught Gardens last Monday night.

A PCSO on a routine patrol discovered a huge party of youngsters had descended on the prestige attraction – valued for its peace and quiet – in what has been described a “pre-arranged” gathering.

Police seized booze and have blamed a minority for inflicting �500 of damage that saw plants wrecked, a bin lobbed over a cliff and shelters kicked-in.

Beer cans and smashed vodka bottles were also left strewn across the secluded beauty spot.

Sergeant Andy Turner said the incident was the biggest of its kind in recent years.

“I’m extremely disappointed that the youths of Sidmouth have either been involved or allowed this to happen. This is a nice place to go and a small group has tried to destroy it,” he said.

“We believe only a minority of this huge group were responsible for the criminal acts of damage.

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“It wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t been drinking.”

PCSO Alex Powe had just confiscated and tipped away alcohol from a small group of underage youngsters at 9.45pm on Monday when he entered the gardens to find around 100 teens. He called for assistance and police colleagues helped disperse the group.

Sgt Turner said many of the youngsters, aged from 14 to 18, were from neighbouring towns.

He has called for the community to help tackle underage drinking and said: “We don’t want Sidmouth to be seen as the place to go for this type of thing.

“We’re not the fun police, we’re just trying to protect kids from themselves and other people.

“I would remind parents they are still responsible for their children. It’s not the job of the emergency services to babysit them.

“I’m asking the community to help us and ring police, at the time, if they suspect underage drinking is taking place.”

A spokesman for the district council, which owns and manages Connaught Gardens, said: “This is the first vandalism there for quite a while. The mess took gardeners several hours to clear up.”