'To think someone stood on her is unbearable' - Mum of brave Annabelle (2) whose grave ornaments were callously stolen slams 'evil' thieves
A devastated mum is appealing for information after three bronze butterflies were callously stolen from the grave of her brave two-year-old girl less than 24-hours after they were put there.
Annabelle Heather Kehoe was laid to rest in New Ross, Co Wexford in April 2014.
Born with a rare syndrome doctors said little Annabelle wouldn't live for more than three hours.
But against all odds, the courageous little girl battled through and was just weeks away from her third birthday when she passed.
Her parents Helena (35) and Paddy Kehoe (29) placed "three bronze butterflies that represented three years of her beautiful life" on her memorial in St Stephens Cemetery at 3.30pm on Saturday.
However, when they returned to her graveside after 11am Mass on Sunday, "the symbols of her life" that they hoped to have in place for Christmas were gone.
The items had been professionally fitted with specialist screws and glues. But despite this, the "evil" perpetrators managed to remove them leaving three sizable holes that had been bored into the granite headstone.
In an emotional appeal for information, little Annabelle's devastated mum said knowing that someone had stood on top of her dead daughter's final resting place was "extremely heart-wrenching" for her and her husband.
"We call Annabelle's grave her garden. It is where we go to remember her.
"To think that someone stood on top of her and invaded her space is unbearable," said the shaken mum.
"These took time to remove so someone was standing on top of her for a while. That makes it worse. It's extremely heart-wrenching," she added.
"Annabelle was full of innocence and pure love, the fact that someone would steal from her in life or death is just unthinkable. She did nothing to deserve it.
"She was so very special to all of us and to lose her was heartbreaking. We now remember her as a special little butterfly, precious and rare.
"The three beautiful bronze butterflies represented three years of our beautiful daughters life.
"The butterfly symbol was significant to us which is why we chose it. When she died, we noticed a number of them around the house and on the street and things.
"It may sound silly but we took it as a sign from Annabelle that she was letting us know she was ok," she said.
Mrs Kehoe added that they had ordered the pieces months before and had eagerly awaited their arrival in time for Christmas.
"They cost a few hundred euros, but the monetary loss is of no significance," she said.
"It is the thought that someone could be so evil and steal these from a child's grave.
"Maybe if they have a heart and see this they will bring them back annomously," she added.
"They were placed on her headstone with love and remembrance. Within 24 hours some heartless evil individuals stood on top of her and stole them. It is deplorable."
In the hope of saving other families the grief that they are going through the Wexford woman said they are offering a reward for information.
"It's so sad that we lay our loved ones to rest, and these individuals get away with vandalising and robbing their final resting place.
"It is hard enough to put up a headstone. This is very hurtful.
"If u have any info please either get in contact with New Ross Gardai or with myself," she added.
Anyone with any information in relation to the incident is asked to contact New Ross Garda Station on 051 426037. The Garda Confidential Line, 1800 666111 or any Garda Station.