Suspected vandalism of tree dedicated to Wanstead resident

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Ken Smith with the tree he suspects was vandalised Ken Smith with the tree he suspects was vandalised

A widower was left heartbroken when he found a memorial tree dedicated to his late wife damaged on Christmas Day in a suspected act of vandalism.

Retired police officer Ken Smith, 79, of Meadow Walk, Wanstead, was shocked to discover most of the six foot tree, which was planted in memory of his wife Josephine a year ago and is marked by a plaque, apparently snapped off.

Mr Smith, who previously worked at Wanstead police station and has lived in the area for 40 years, opted for the memorial tree on Christchurch Green as his wife, who lost her battle against cancer in January 2011, loved the park and the couple would regularly visit.

Following the discovery, Mr Smith searched for the missing section of the tree in an attempt to work out what had happened, but it was nowhere to be seen.

No other tree on the green was damaged and Mr Smith now believes it was vandalised.

He said: "When I approached the tree on Christmas Day I thought my eyes were tricking me. Then as I got closer I saw that most of it had gone.

"I was in complete shock and felt like someone was attacking the memory of Josephine.

“All the signs point to the possibility that it probably was vandalism - it being the only tree on the green to be damaged.

“I searched the whole park to find the remains of what had broken off but found nothing – it’s just left a stump.

“Even in Wanstead we have an element of despicable and cowardly thugs. This park was very dear to my wife, and remains so for me.

"This park was hugely important to me and my wife because we used to bring the dogs there after doing our shopping on the high street and it was our nearest green area, so it has a lot of memories for me.”

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