FAMILIES are heartbroken after discovering seven trees planted in memory of war heroes were vandalised.

The cherry blossoms, in Patcham Peace Gardens, in Old London Road, Brighton, were snapped in half by yobs.

The trees honour fallen soldiers in the First World War and are used by families to remember their loved ones.

Six of them had been recently replanted after vandals broke the original ones.

Conservative Councillor Lee Wares, representing Patcham and Hollingbury, said he discovered the damage on Sunday.

He said: “This is devastating for everybody.

“It is a real kick in the teeth for the U3A volunteers that freely give their time to make the gardens a beautiful place for all to enjoy.

“Smashing up a memorial garden is no different than vandalising a grave yard.

“It is so disrespectful and I fail to see how anybody cannot distinguish right from wrong.

“We have reported this to the police and children’s services where I hope swift intervention can be brought about.

“I sincerely hope that when the planting season returns the council will replace these trees.

“It must be particularly saddening for those children who have recently embarked on fantastic community projects such as taking over the planters near their school.

“I will do all I can to help these individuals engage in a positive contribution to our community and I’m happy to speak with them about the importance of the gardens and even encourage them to participate in replanting the trees and tending the gardens.

“Perhaps it is also regretfully time for this area to have CCTV installed.”

Two years ago, thieves stole 30 per cent of the stone slabs in the garden.

Fellow Conservative Councillor Geoffrey Theobald OBE, also representing Patcham, said he hoped the culprits will be caught so they can be dealt with.

He said: “It’s just sickening. Volunteers have put so much time and effort into making it beautiful for the community.

“It’s very disheartening for them. I am very disappointed.

“I hope those who are responsible will be apprehended soon.

“Unfortunately this isn’t the first time vandals have targeted the garden.

“Last October the Doric Temple was smashed up.”