VANDALS hatched an elaborate plan to kill a tree in a Sheffield park which has left a sports centre with an unexpected bill.
Workers found the damage inspecting trees around Hillsborough Arena, Hillsborough Park.
They discovered someone had drilled around the base of a mature sycamore and inserted a copper pipe in order to feed in poison.
A member of staff at the arena said: “This tree is a sycamore about 100 years old and more than 20m tall.
“It was obviously there a long time before the people that decided to kill it moved in.
“I think it’s sickening that people would do such a thing .
“I would hope that someone comes forward and reports whoever has done this.
“As an employee of the arena I know it will cost about £1,000 to remove the tree, money we don’t have.
“We will also have to remove the inner fence to get at the tree which I doubt very much we will be able to replace any time soon.”
“As a resident, we are lucky this was picked up on the inspection. Had this been done just after an inspection all houses backing on to the tree would have been at risk.
“The tree is in a conservation area and permission would never have been granted to fell it, so well done to whoever poisoned it.
“You managed to put all neighbouring houses at risk and cost a business extra expense during a recession.”
The trees around the arena, which is the home of Hillsborough Arena Sports Association and is a base for clubs including Hillsborough Hawks rugby league team, are only inspected once every three years.
Sheffield Council confirmed the incident has been reported and has been referred to police as criminal damage.
n Anyone with information about the vandalism should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.