VANDALS have targeted a children's play area, smashing a model elephant and leaving a gaping hole in its head.

Photos show the damage in the playground at Hove Lagoon Funplay, which happened late on Thursday night.

In a post on Facebook yesterday, the Big Beach Cafe shared CCTV images of a group of youths in the play area on Thursday, just before 10pm, and said the vandals had caused £600 worth of damage.

They said: "After receiving a distressing message from a local resident late last night, we discovered this morning that these wonderful citizens had spent their evening wilfully vandalising an elephant from Hove Lagoon Funplay in the kids' playground.

The Argus: Vandals smashed the elephant in the playground at Hove Lagoon FunplayVandals smashed the elephant in the playground at Hove Lagoon Funplay

"There is a £600 bill to pay along with a chat with Sussex Police."

It comes after several incidents of vandalism at Hove Lagoon, with the toilets next to the Big Beach Cafe also targeted in recent months.

Video showed a group of young people walking up to the site before kicking down the door on March 10.

Surfaces were badly damaged and toilet paper strewn across the floor and cubicles.

Vandals have also wrecked playground equipment, caused damage to trampolines and smashed tables outside the cafe.

A spokesman for Lagoon Leisure, which runs Hove Lagoon Funplay, said he had "never seen it so bad".

The Argus: Councillor Robert NemethCouncillor Robert Nemeth

Councillor Robert Nemeth, who is chairman of the Friends of Hove Lagoon community group, said: "It’s quite devastating to see yet more vandalism at the Lagoon, where quite a number of us are working hard daily to improve this valuable community facility for all to enjoy.

"In terms of how to prevent, we of course need sustained tougher policing and a proper crackdown on graffiti and fly-posting along the seafront by the council.

"Until everyone is on board with tackling anti-social behaviour, we are going to keep having problems which hurts popular businesses and detracts from the Lagoon experience.”

Sussex Police said: "Police received report that damage was caused to the play area by a group of youths at Hove Lagoon at 10pm on Thursday.

"Anyone who witnessed what happened or who has information that may assist with enquiries can report online or call 101, quoting 1564 of 12/05."