VANDALS have smashed a valuable sandstone lion that guarded the gates to a North Yorkshire country house.

The ornamental lion, which was about three-feet tall, stood on a pillar at the gates of Norton Conyers Hall, near Ripon. Vandals pulled the lion over and smashed it last Wednesday, April 16, causing several thousand pounds worth of damage. The hall's owner has offered a "substantial" reward to anyone providing information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever caused the damage. Anyone with information should phone Ripon Police, on 01765 602222.

Updated: 10:13 Wednesday, April 23, 2003