A BEREAVED mother has condemned vandals who damaged a defibrillator bought in her daughter’s memory.

Angela Brinkhurst said hearing about the incident was like a “slap in the face” and she is calling on anyone with information to contact police.

Her daughter Alice had Down’s syndrome and died last year at the age of 29.

Alice had problems with her heart and so her family decided to raise money to buy a defibrillator to help others.

Mrs Brinkhurst, 57, said: “She was very well known in Lewes and we had about 600 come to her funeral.

“We decided to ask for donations to the Sussex Heart Charity and we ended up raising enough money to buy two machines.”

One was donated to Lewes FC, where Mrs Brinkhurst’s son Steven, is a player, and the other was installed outside Winterbourne Stores in Winterbourne Lane.

Mrs Brinkhurst said: “A neighbour knocked on my door on Sunday to ask if I knew the defibrillator at Winterbourne had gone.

“We hunted around for it and eventually discovered it had been dumped in the stream and the battery is still missing. It looks like it was taken into the park before being slung over a wall.”

Mrs Brinkhurst said she had been sorting out her daughter’s room when she heard the news.

She said: “I was really saddened. Why would someone want to take a defibrillator when it’s there to help save someone’s life?

“The people who did it might have parents or grandparents or other relatives who might need that machine.

“We don’t think anyone was trying to steal it – I think it was just down to vandalism.

“I’m told by someone living near the store that they heard a bit of a kerfuffle going on at about 3am on Sunday so it may be connected.

“They were probably either high on drugs or drunk.”

The Sussex Heart Charity plans to replace the machine as soon as it can.

Mrs Brinkhurst says she plans to fundraise to cover the cost of replacing it if the vandals are not traced.

She is hoping CCTV footage from the store may help provide more information.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “Police received a report at 3.35pm on Sunday that a defibrillator had been stolen from Winterbourne Lane in Lewes.

“The defibrillator was found in the nearby river but is too damaged to use.”

Anyone who saw someone damaging the machine or has more information is asked to contact police online via the sussex.police.uk website.

Alternatively they can call the non-emergency police number 101 quoting serial 879 of 8/10.