THE family of a tragic crash victim were devastated after a memorial bench built in his honour was vandalised.

Louts sprayed markings on the back of the bench by Hullbridge Memorial Green, on the corner of Watery Lane and Lower Road, which was installed after Chris Garrod died in February 2007.

Chris, who was aged 21, crashed into an electricity pole in Lower Road, Hullbridge, just yards from his home and died in Queens Hospital, Romford, three days later. Family and friends organised a host of charity football matches in Chris’s memory to raise money for the Burned Children’s Club, as well as about £900 for the bench.

His father, Richard Garrod, 65, of The Priories, Hullbridge, said: “I don’t like graffiti anyway, but given what the memorial stands for, it is upsetting.

“There is a plaque on there, so the person who did it was fully aware of the circumstances of the bench.

“With what happens overall these days, nothing surprises me. At least it lasted seven years before it was touched, but you shouldn’t have to think like that.

“I would imagine it would be someone with nothing better to do. It just seems random lettering, so it was mindless. It might have hidden meaning, but to me it seems pointless.”

Hullbridge Parish Council was made aware of the vandalism on April 9 and organised a clean-up, but the markings still remain.

Cleaners will be back today to try and shift the remaining damage.

Chris’s sister-in-law Amy Garrod, who lives in Steeple, near Southminster, added: “This is about a young man loved dearly by his family and friends and honoured, using a symbol that will stay there for many years to come.

“It feels like this has disgraced what Chris’s friends and family tried extremely hard to achieve.”