A landmark tree on a Whitehill cul-de-sac has been stripped of its greenery following an alleged poisoning.

Spring may have finally sprung, but the palm tree at the front of Olivia Todd-Russett’s house is looking bereft of life.

Its current bare state is a stark contrast to previous years as Olivia has watched the specimen grow and thrive since moving into her Gorsedown Close house in 1979.

Its rapid decline has left its owner stumped and sad, as she believes its plight is linked to a motorist who was spotted dowsing pavements on the close with liquid from a trough.

She said: “It was a fantastic tree and there was always lots and lots of leaves on it, but look at it now.

“I think it’s been poisoned. There was someone driving around in a white van with a trough in it and it definitely wasn’t a council worker. They drove up the side of the road and sprayed.

“Shortly after this happened the tree started to die. I don’t think it’s a coincidence and I think it was deliberate.

“I can’t be the only witness and I’m sure a neighbour would have seen something. I’ve told the police and the council have said it definitely wasn’t them.”

There is a glimmer of hope for Olivia and her 15-year-old tree, as two or three tiny sprigs are visible on its trunk.

She added: “Hopefully it will grow back because it was such a lovely tree. I hate seeing it like this.”