RELATIVES of a popular teenager who was found dead near an Erskine school have been left “deeply saddened” after cruel thieves pinched tributes that had been left at a memorial tree in his honour.

Owen MacDonald’s loved ones were distraught when his body was discovered near Park Mains High, adjacent to Rashielee Avenue, in the early hours of Sunday, April 30, by three men who were making their way to a petrol station.

Since then, a tree near the school grounds has become a shrine to 16-year-old Owen, with family and friends leaving flowers, teddies and scarves.

However, when Owen’s family visited the tree on Saturday night, they discovered that two teddies placed there by his mum and aunt had been stolen.

Angela Wilkes Borland, Owen’s aunt, said: “With deep sadness, I have to say that myself and my family were at Owen’s tree and someone has taken things that myself and his mum had left especially for him.

“Why would someone do this?

“We love seeing people at the tree and it gives us comfort when thoughtful people have put down flowers. Owen would be saying thank-you to everyone.”

Councillor Michelle Campbell, whose ward covers Erskine, is urging whoever is responsible for the thefts to return the items.

She said: “It is important for Owen’s family and the community to unite together following this tragedy.

“People go through coping with death in different ways and people should respect this.

“I am really saddened to hear about this as it affects a family who are going through a terrible loss.”

Andy Cameron, secretary of Erskine Community Council, said it has been working closely with police to curb crime in the area.

He added: “Owen’s death was a tragic thing to happen and we are offering as much support to those affected as we can.”

Following Owen’s death, heartbroken classmates set up a JustGiving page to raise money for his grief-stricken family.

The page was closed this week, having raised £11,287.