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James Brewster's mother had appealed on Facebook for return of treasured bicycle...

Thieves in Northern Ireland have returned a bike stolen from a nine-year-old boy shortly before the first anniversary of his father’s death.

The bike was stolen from outside James Brewster’s home in Pinebank, Craigavon, County Armagh last Monday, reports the Belfast Telegraph.

His mother Una launched an appeal on Facebook for the return of the silver mountain bike, the last gift James received from his father before his death 12 months earlier after the 43-year-old collapsed at home.

She wrote: “I am appealing to the person who, over the last few days, was along the path in front of houses nos. 121-126 in Pinebank, and who saw the opportunity to steal my son's silver bike, to please return it.

“Let me put you in the picture ...you have caused more heartache to a child who tomorrow will be remembering the nightmare which unfolded one year ago to the day ...one that NO child should ever experience, that of losing his father .... and to make it worse this bike was a gift from his daddy. If you have a heart at all return the bike please and nothing more said.”

The post was shared more than 1,200 times on the social network, with the bike turning up three days later.

Mrs Brewster described the return of the bike as "a miracle in Pinebank," with the video showing how James’s reaction at discovering it in the garden changed from one of shock and disbelief to one of joy.

Speaking of the theft, she said: "It was the first time he had cried over the last few days, with the whole build-up to the anniversary.

"I said, 'We'll get this sorted, we'll get it back. I'll do a campaign on Facebook and put out an appeal'. He lit up at that. I thought I would try and speak to the person that did it."

James told the Belfast Telegraph: "When I came home from Gaelic after-school club, I went into the garden without knowing my mum had seen the bike.

"I actually looked at the bike and didn't think it was really there. I thought I was dreaming. It's the last thing my dad gave to me as a present.

"It was pretty amazing that so many people came on Facebook to try and find it, and everybody gave us huge support to try and find it. I've been barely off the bike since."

Mrs Brewster said: "It's made our Christmas already. James's younger brother, Michael and sister, Clara are over the moon, especially Clara, who cycled to school with him this morning.

"We'll be keeping it for ever – there's no doubt about it. It's a miracle bike."

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.