'I went into shock': Grieving Balingup mum finds desecrated grave

Jesse Pember died in a car crash 1999. Photo: Supplied

Jesse Pember died in a car crash 1999. Photo: Supplied

When Balingup mum Susan Pember went to lay flowers on her son's grave on the 18th anniversary of his death, she discovered with shock that his headstone had been stolen.

"I turned up to put roses on the graves and I walked around the back and couldn't believe it," Ms Pember said.

"I told myself 'no, it's there'. I went into shock."

The 50 centimetres bronze statue of a phoenix had stood by Jesse Pember's final resting place at Balingup Cemetery since 1999, until it was recently cut from its perch by what appears to be an angle-grinder.

"At first I just thought of Jesse," Ms Pember said.

Every year on November 1 - the date a fatal car crash cut the 17-year-old's life short - Ms Pember comes to visit her son.

His sister Sarah Behan said her mum was inconsolable when she had discovered his desecrated gravesite.

"She couldn't drive. She was so traumatised by it. It felt like it was an attack on him or on our family," she said.

The 50 centimetres bronze statue of a phoenix had stood by Jesse Pember's final resting place at Balingup Cemetery since 1999. Photo: supplied.

The 50 centimetres bronze statue of a phoenix had stood by Jesse Pember's final resting place at Balingup Cemetery since 1999. Photo: supplied.

Ms Behan said she reported the theft to the local police.

"They basically put it to file because of 'outdoor forensics'. Unless someone else can give them a lead they just leave it there and won't be able to investigate much more," she said.

Ms Pember said she did not feel anger towards the thief - just sadness.

"I feel sorry for them. We feel very sad and shattered that it has been sitting there for 18 years and now it is gone," she said.

"It has nothing to do with Jesse, but it was his memory.

"When I found the phoenix it was just perfect. To me, it was meant as a spirit guide. It had wings and Jesse had already flown away. It was all just fitting."

The bronze statue cost the family $3,000.

The headstone of Jesse's grave was sawn off. Photo: Supplied

The headstone of Jesse's grave was sawn off. Photo: Supplied

"I wanted it there because of what he meant to us, and what he still means to us," Ms Pember said.

Jesse Pember is still remembered as "an amazing" young man who loved to sing and play guitar.

Mr Pember was a passenger in a car that lost control and rolled on a gravel road.

"He was only 17 and at the start of his life. He had everything to go for, but he was taken," Ms Pember said.

"I have just got to look at all the positives.

"He was loved and remembered in our community."

Ms Pember said her family would love to see the phoenix returned to Jesse's grave.

"If someone had a conscience and returned it that would be amazing," she said.

Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

- WAtoday