Tuesday, June 28

Ava White: a senseless death that shocked the city of Liverpool | Liverpool

Ava White was a spirited 12-year-old girl who would try anything once, loved going on holiday and enjoyed mixed martial arts, singing, dancing and making TikTok videos. She was, her friends and family de ella said, a girl who “did not fear anything”.

That pluck perhaps explains why, larking around with friends in Liverpool city center last year, she had no hesitation, no concern, in confronting a boy two years older who was filming her. She demanded that he stop and delete the footage. She had no idea he had a knife. What followed shocked everyone, particularly the city of Liverpool.

It took place on a night that should have been all about fun: the switching on of the city center Christmas lights. Steve Rotheram, the greater metropolitan of Liverpool, summed up community feelings when he expressed his horror at the stabbing.

“For such an appalling attack to take place on one of the busiest streets in the Liverpool city region, during one of the busiest days of the year, sends shivers down our spines,” he said at the time. “Ava was just a child with her whole life in front of her. Her future of her has been stolen and the lives of her family and friends of her shattered. I am angry today for Ava and her family de ella, for the parents across the region worrying about their children’s safety, and angry that such a heinous act should take place here.

“Only yesterday we supported ‘Orange the World’ campaign to end male violence against women and girls. Last night’s senseless events show us that there is still so much work to do.”

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After Ava’s death the city’s three professional football clubs, Liverpool, Everton and Tranmere, came together to speak out against the carrying of knives. “Liverpool is a city built on compassion and solidarity, and we must take a unified stance – it is not acceptable, for any reason, to carry knives. This is a simple message, yet one that can save hundreds of lives every year,” the clubs said.

Ava had gone into the city center on 25 November to meet friends and have a laugh. Small bottles of vodka had been bought and their contents were being drunk mixed with fruit juice.

The jury in the 14-year-old boy’s trial was shown CCTV footage showing what many would call kids being kids. They were sitting in plant pots, pulling up plants and throwing them at each other. They were singing, dancing, falling over, and running around a Christmas tree.

A group of four boys chanced upon Ava’s group. They started filming in order to distribute the footage on Snapchat. Ava was obviously angry and approached the defendant to demand he stop filming. The boy thrust the knife into Ava’s neck from her, causing catastrophic injuries.

Staff from the nearby Liverpool One shopping center tried to stem the bleeding but it was too late. She was still just alive as paramedics took her to hospital but she died shortly afterwards.

The trial was striking in that most of the evidence came from children and hardly any account of what happened was exactly the same.

For the family it was obviously a grueling, emotional trial, not least because the court was shown footage of the stabbing. They saw her pushing the boy, who had his right arm raised. It was played four times, twice at normal speed and twice slowed down. Prosecutors showed the jury an enlarged still from the footage showing the knife. It was one of many examples of CCTV shown to the jury.

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The boy accepted that he stabbed Ava but maintained that he “didn’t mean to”, saying he was just trying to get Ava away from him.

It was a senseless death, one that is difficult to read into for wider lessons. Richard Garside, the director of the Center for Crime and Justice Studiessaid a case like this involving such young children was mercifully rare, but that would be of no consolation to the families and friends of Ava.

“Whatever happens as a result of the verdict is obviously not going to bring Ava back. How on earth do you make sense of a 12-year-old girl going out and not coming home?” he said.

Hundreds gathered at Ava’s funeral two days before Christmas, when the Archbishop of Liverpool, Malcolm McMahon, described her as a “popular, loving young person”.

“Ava was loved by so many people, undoubtedly heaven will be a happier place,” he said.


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