A GRIEVING family is in shock after a tree cared for in memory of their mother and grandmother who passed away was chopped down by a stranger.

Shar Lynch-Nuttall, 52, and her husband Craig Nuttall, 50, were “devastated” to find that somebody had trespassed into their mother’s garden and chopped down her favourite tree, where the family buried her ashes.

Jean Nuttall lived in her home in Accrington for approximately 30 years before she died, and was “a fantastic grandmother” to Shar and Craig’s two children.

Shar said: “It’s been traumatic. It’s bad enough as it is with everything, and it’s taken a while to get over losing her but then this happens.

“It wasn’t the best looking tree but it was about to start blooming a beautiful shade of blue, red and pink flowers and that’s why Jean loved it so much.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Memorial tree after someone cuts it downMemorial tree after someone cuts it down

Jean Nuttall was 76 when Shar and Craig found her in her home in Accrington last February. The death was ruled inconclusive by doctors but the family believe it to be caused by Covid. 

Craig continued with the garden’s maintenance after his mother’s death. When he visited last Friday, June 3, he found the tree scattered all over the garden and pavement and it had “squashed all of the plants that Jean absolutely loved.”

Shar continued: “In the summer it was gorgeous, but in the winter it was a gangly thing. It didn’t look particularly great so Craig would always ask if she wanted it cut down and she’d aways say no.

“So obviously after she died, we put some of her ashes under the tree because we know she loves trees and it’s all we had left of her, you know?

“That’s been the hardest bit to be honest. It’s not that somebody’s come onto the property without even asking.”

Cutting down a neighbour’s tree if the branches are overhanging onto the other property provided it is returned to the owner is legal.

However, Shar stated that her mother-in-law’s tree “wasn’t growing everywhere, didn’t cause any damage and didn’t block any light”.

It is illegal to trespass onto someone’s property and cut a tree down without permission but the person responsible for damaging the tree is still unknown.

Shar said the incident could have taken place any time between Sunday, May 29, to Thursday, June 2.

Lancashire Telegraph: Family's note before it was torn down days laterFamily's note before it was torn down days later

Shar added: “We were just so angry and wanted to understand why someone would do something like that.”

The family left a note addressed to the suspect but when they returned a couple of days later the “note had been torn down.”

Despite the tragic situation, Shar and her family are grateful for all the help they’ve received from the local community.

Barry, who lives next door, has been "fantastic” helping to clean up the mess and "a councillor who lives on the street said she'd look into it".

“It’s been emotional, but the support has been amazing.”

A spokesperson for Hydnburn Borough Council said: “We are sorry to hear of the distress felt by this resident and pleased they have been able to approach their local councillor for support."