The hearing was told that Ava died after being stabbed in the neck during Liverpool city centre’s Christmas tree switch-on on Thursday evening. The bright Year 8 pupil had been enjoying the festivities with friends. After she collapsed, a passerby and paramedics tried desperately to save her but she was pronounced dead at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. Yesterday the suspect, who cannot be named due to his age, appeared via videolink at Liverpool Crown Court charged with murder and possession of an offensive weapon.
The teenager, of Toxteth, Liverpool, spoke only to confirm his name during the hearing, which lasted about 15 minutes. He was not asked to enter a plea. Honorary Recorder of Liverpool Judge Andrew Menary QC said a plea and trial preparation hearing would be held on February 18 next year.
He listed the case for trial on May 16 and said it was likely to last for two to three weeks. Michael O’Brien, defending, made no application for bail and the teenager was remanded in secure accommodation. Three other boys, aged between 13 and 15, who were also arrested over the killing, have since been conditionally bailed pending further enquiries.
Last week Merseyside Police said “popular” Ava was involved in a “verbal argument” which escalated into an “assault on her with a knife”. The tree lights were switched on at 5pm and Ava was stabbed at around 8.30pm. A passerby rushed over to give first aid while they waited for an ambulance. Flowers and balloons have since been left in Church Street by those paying tribute to the schoolgirl.
One bouquet simply read: “RIP lit- tle sweet daughter of Liverpool.” Peter Duffy, head teacher of Ava’s Notre Dame Catholic College, also paid tribute to the “unique” and “much-loved” pupil. He added: “She was incredibly popular, with a fantastic group of friends. Our deepest thoughts and prayers go out to her family.”