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New upset as tribute tree pulled down; Police speak to man after incident.

Byline: Tom Mullen

ATREE poignantly planted in memory of a father murdered in a North East town has been cruelly uprooted.

The widow of caring Robin Chard, who was beaten to death by two thugs in an unprovoked attack, today told of her disgust after the lasting memorial was chopped down.

Neighbours in Corrofell Gardens in Felling, Gateshead, where father-of-two Robin lived, claim an angry resident took down the tree to stop children using it as a goalpost as their football was repeatedly hitting his car.

Police were called and have spoken to a man in connection with the incident, but no one has admitted the act to Robin's widow, Angie, leaving her heartbroken.

The club singer said: "My initial reaction was to go down there and confront whoever has done this and say do you know what this tree meant to us? PAINFUL Widow Angie "Whether they did or not, I don't know. If they said no and they were sorry then that would be it. But we just don't know. It was the council that put it there. There was quite a close community in the street. I've chosen not to go back because of the memories. There's no point in planting another tree, it wouldn't be the same. Robin loved nature. "One of the last things he said to me before he died was when he saw a pink blossom tree and said how beautiful it was."

Neighbours on the street still remember Robin, who was killed in April 2004 at the age of 47.

He was robbed, kicked and stamped to death when two thugs pounced on him as he made the short journey home from Heworth Metro station.

His killers Christopher Smith and Joseph Mee later jeered and bragged to others about the murder and even played Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, repeating the line "Mama, Just Killed a Man".

Smith, then 24, of Pankhurst Gardens, and Mee, 27, of Whitemere Gardens, both Wardley, Gateshead, were jailed for life.

MEMORY Chard Angie, 53, said she moved away from Corrofell Gardens four years ago to try to move on. But she said the memories are still painful and she is saddened that Robin will never meet his grandchildren Daniel, five, and Andrew, three.

She said: "They don't know anything about what happened. They just know grandpa Robin is in heaven."

A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: "A man was spoken to about his behaviour and there was no further police action."

CAPTION(S):

PAINFUL MEMORY Widow Angie Chard MEMORIAL TO MAN WHO LOVED NATURE Robin Chard's memorial tree in Corrofell Gardens which has been uprooted
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 18, 2011
Words:437
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