National

Vandals set fire to memorial for man killed in Gold Coast pub brawl

Vandals set fire to memorial for man killed in Gold Coast pub brawl
A roadside memorial for a young Gold Coast man who was allegedly murdered during a brawl at a pub has been vandalised.
Family and friends say the memorial for Jesse Vilkelis-Curas, 24, was completely destroyed after vandals set fire to it on Saturday.
His devastated mother, Kristina Vilkelis-Curas, said the memorial had also been vandalised several times before.
"We can't understand why it's happening because Jesse has never had enemies, he was loved by everybody," Ms Vilkelis-Curas told nine.com.au.
"It's brutally ugly. It's so hurtful and so unnecessary. What are these people getting out of it?
"I'm distraught and my kids are inconsolable at the moment. I just did not know evil like this existed."
The memorial for Mr Vilkelis-Curas before it was destroyed over the weekend. (Supplied: Nakita Walker)
Vandals set fire to the memorial, reducing it to rubble. (Supplied: Facebook)
Mr Vilkelis-Curas died after his life support was turned off on Boxing Day last year.
Police allege he was set upon and violently bashed at the The Shaws Bay Hotel when a dispute broke out over a spilled beer.
An 18-year-old, Bryson Larsen-Tai, is currently on trial for murder, while another man, 19-year-old Tyrese Hickling, is facing assault charges in relation to the fight.
A close friend of Mr Vilkelis-Curas, Nakita Walker, has started an online petition to Ballina Shire Council asking for CCTV cameras to be installed at the site of the memorial, which is next to the pub where the brawl occurred.
An 18-year-old man is currently on trial for murder over the fatal brawl that took Mr Vilkelis-Curas' life. (Supplied: Kristina Vilkelis-Curas)
Ms Walker said she was aware of at least four times the memorial had been vandalised.
"We have a group chat all of our friends are on and we are constantly getting messages saying it's been vandalised again," she said.
"We try to go down and get it set back up before Jesse's girlfriend and his brother see it, but they always end up finding out and it's terrible every time."
Jesse Vilkelis-Curas as a young child, pictured with his mother Kristina. (Supplied: Kristina Vilkelis-Curas)
Ms Walker said if a CCTV camera was installed at the location it could provide police with evidence on who was behind the attacks on the memorial.
Public safety would also benefit from having a camera in the spot, which was busy at night, Ms Walker said.
"It is a very popular place outside of a caravan park, the pub and the beach, I don't think it would hurt to have a camera there anyway."
Ballina Shire Mayor David Wright told nine.com.au that he was aware of the calls for a CCTV camera to be installed in the location and the council would be giving the idea due consideration.
Ms Vilkelis-Curas said she hoped the authorities would step in and put a stop to the attacks on her son's memorial for good.
"My kids go there regularly. They tend to his flowers and the trinkets and get some comfort from it. I want them to be able to have that," she said.
Contact reporter Emily McPherson at [email protected]