Vandals spend morning gardening to make up for damages caused at Sidmouth beauty spot
PUBLISHED: 14:50 24 October 2018 | UPDATED: 13:33 26 October 2018
The vandals responsible for damaging a display in one of Sidmouth’s most popular gardens paid penance for the destruction they caused.
The town’s top ranking police officer, Sergeant Andy Squires, said three young men who were responsible for trampling over the flowerbeds and damaging Elmer the elephant, in Blackmore Gardens, just hours after the feature was installed, have spent a morning gardening.
He said the incident took place in July, mere days before Britain and South West in Bloom judges were due to visit the town. It is believed four young men also sat on the feature and took pictures of themselves, which squashed the plants on Elmer’s back.
When Sidmouth in Bloom volunteers arrived the following morning, to add finishing touches to the display before the judges arrived, they were very upset to find they had to rebuild a lot of it. If damage had been caused to the framework, it would have cost in the region of £1,000 to replace - luckily this was not the case.
Sgt Squires said it had taken a lot of hard work and extensive enquiries, in particular by PCSO Steve Blanchford-Cox, to identify those responsible.
He added: “Three of them spent a Saturday morning gardening under the direction of the volunteers who maintain it so beautifully.
“A fourth who is out of the country will be writing a letter of apology and making a financial contribution. This is what we call a community resolution, being used to very good effect.
“That sort of result is what the community resolution is there for – low level crime that puts right the damage and doesn’t unnecessarily criminalise any one. It lets them see how much work it is to put it right again.”
Lynette Talbot, chairman of Sidmouth in Bloom, said: “It was my idea (to get the young men gardening). I believe if there is any trouble like that then it is the only way that people understand the amount of hard work that goes into it and, hopefully, they will appreciate it a lot more. If it is graffiti they should clean it and if they cause damages they should repair it.
“I think the morning went really well – the boys were very nice and responsive. They dug a trench around Blackmore Gardens and replanted some of the ferns that were by Elmer.”