THE mother of a Bromsgrove teenager whose tragic death shocked the city says she is 'heartbroken' after a plaque honouring her son was vandalised.

The tribute plaque for Tom Jones - a student who went missing on his way home during his first week at Worcester University - was damaged just two weeks after being installed on city's Sabrina Bridge by the county council.

Vicki Jones said she has found the news 'very upsetting' and although Tom's death was two and a half years ago, to her, it feels 'like yesterday.'

She said: "It is so very sad. We are really upset. We know that this is probably the work of mindless vandals who don't realise what this plaque means to us, but that doesn't make it hurt any less."

Tom had just started at the University of Worcester when he went missing in 2018, his body was found in the River Severn after nine days.

The discovery prompted an outpouring of grief from the community, after volunteers had flocked to help with desperate searches for the missing student.

The Worcester community honoured Tom's life by leaving floral tributes on the bridge now known as 'Tom's Bridge,' and more than 1,000 people attended a candle lit vigil on the St John's bridge after his death.

Since then a memorial bench was installed between Sabrina Bridge and the Worcester Rowing Club and, most recently, the plaque carrying a heartfelt message of thanks to the community from Tom's family was unveiled.

Mrs Jones said: "It is heartbreaking. We love Worcester, and the bridge especially, it is a special place of comfort to our family. Somewhere we can go and feel close to Tom. Obviously, the people who have done this have no idea of the impact this will have. It definitely leaves a bitter taste and we can't help but take it personally.

"We had to stop taking flowers to Tom's bench last year as we had three vases stolen and the flowers just strewn across the ground.

"We are so grateful to the community of Worcester for all they have done for us and I know that the vast majority of people are completely supportive of us and of Tom. The council has gone above and beyond for us, as have the community and we are so grateful. It means so much to us."

Jon Fraser, head of highways at Worcestershire County Council, added: “We are incredibly disappointed that a plaque on Sabrina Bridge in Worcester, unveiled just two weeks ago, in memory of Thomas Jones, has been vandalised.

"Plans are in place to remove the plaque so that it can be repainted and restored."

Professor David Green CBE, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive at the University of Worcester, said: “Tom’s tragic and untimely death brought family, friends and the whole community of Worcester together in grief, as the wording on the plaque so eloquently states.

"It is devastating that this poignant memorial has been damaged in this way. We hope that swift action is taken to ensure that it is repaired to its rightful condition and our thoughts are, as always, with Tom’s parents, sister, wider family and friends.”