The news of 12-year-old Ava White’s death spread slowly across Liverpool on Friday morning. Christmas shoppers, unaware of her killing, came into the city centre to be greeted by police cordons closing off much of Church Street and surrounding areas where the stabbing took place on Thursday night.
“She was everyone’s baby. It could have been anyone’s child,” said 51-year-old Hayley Hughes, who came to pay her respects at a small flower memorial near the crime scene. Hughes said that, while she had heard of stabbings in Liverpool before, she did not expect something like this to happen in the city centre to such a young child. “She only came in to see the lights switched on,” she said.
According to police reports, Ava was attending a Christmas lights show with her friends on Thursday night, when she was assaulted at 8.40pm. Four boys from Toxteth between the ages of 13 and 15 have been arrested on suspicion of her murder.
“Sleep tight, little Ava. Sending love and strength to your family,” read one card left at the memorial. A crying girl accompanied by her mother, who said she was Ava’s friend, squeezed past reporters to lay flowers.
Flowers and a balloon were left by 17-year-old Lacey, who did not want to give her surname, and her mother. Lacey said her younger sister had been friends with Ava. She said: “She was just a bubbly character, so loving and caring. She came out with her friends to enjoy herself.”
Another woman dropped off a card. “I didn’t know her at all. It’s just heartbreaking,” she said before slipping off into the crowd.
“Our teacher told us about it today,” said 16-year-old Safia Robinson, who came into the city centre on her lunch break from school. “It’s concerning because it was a little kid. It makes you feel less safe. It doesn’t make me want to go out at night.”
“I am appalled and deeply upset,” said 79-year-old Grace Blackmore, who was watching people gather around the memorial. “I hate what is happening in our society to young people. In the past boys might have arguments and fights, but they’d shake hands and move on. Nothing like this. They haven’t even started their lives. They are just lost souls.”
Richard Banes, 47, who had travelled into Liverpool with his partner to do Christmas shopping, said: “[Before we heard the news] we were just saying how we can’t get into Primark; it makes you feel so selfish. It is such a tragedy. It makes you shiver.”