A HEARTBROKEN York mother has slammed callous thieves who stole a special light which illuminated her son's grave.

Shirley-Ann Gibb-Kirk, of Hamilton Drive, Holgate, was horrified to discover someone had stolen the solar-powered lamp from the plot in Fulford Cemetery, where Diamond Wharton is buried.

She says the culprits also scratched a photograph of her son on the headstone.

Diamond died two weeks before his 35th birthday last July, after collapsing in Holgate Road following a night out with friends.

The cause of death was asphyxia caused by the inhalation of food due to intoxication.

Mrs Gibb-Kirk, who lights a candle at the grave every week, said the theft has added to her grief.

"I can't understand why anyone would do this to him - he was always doing people favours," she said.

"It's very upsetting."

Mrs Gibb-Kirk said Diamond, who has a son, Adam, drank excessively to "ease the pain" of an excruciating stomach condition.

"He used to drink until he passed out so he could get some sleep," she said.

"He wasn't an alcoholic.

"He was like a little jewel when he was born, so we called him Diamond," she said.

"He was absolutely football-mad and used to sing all the way down the road clapping his hands if Leeds and England had won.

"His last words to me were: 'I love you, Mam'.

"I miss hearing him walking up the drive."

Mrs Gibb-Kirk composed a special poem for Diamond's headstone with his niece, Ebony-Jane.

It reads: "Do not stand at my grave and weep, I'm watching Leeds, my favourite team. Playing in the summer sun, out partying having fun. Having my last bet, this is the one I will not regret. I am the diamond in the sky, Watching you all from up high."

More than 400 people attended Diamond's funeral. "We all still miss him so much," said Mrs Gibb-Kirk.

"He was a real loveable rogue and the amount of people at his funeral proves how popular he was."

Anyone with information about the theft should phone York police on 01904 631321.

Updated: 09:49 Saturday, June 14, 2003