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Ava White: 'Bubbly' 12-year-old fatally stabbed following argument in Liverpool
26 November 2021, 19:14 | Updated: 26 November 2021, 19:15
A "bubbly" and "loving" 12-year-old girl was stabbed following an argument in Liverpool city centre, Merseyside Police have confirmed.
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Ava White had been in the city with friends following a Christmas lights event on Thursday when she suffered "catastrophic injuries" in an assault at 8.39pm.
Four boys, one aged 13, two aged 14 and one 15-year-old, remain in custody after they were arrested on suspicion of murder.
Detective Superintendent Sue Coombs, who is leading the investigation, said Ava had been involved in a "verbal argument" which escalated into an "assault on her with a knife", but a weapon has not yet been recovered.
DS Coombs said: "We know at the moment that Ava was with her friends in Liverpool city centre and there had been a verbal argument which escalated to an assault on her involving a knife."
She added: "Clearly it's the death of a 12-year-old child, so everything we're doing is very, very thorough."
The DS confirmed that the force aren't "actively" looking for other suspects at this time but added questioning the four arrested teens may take time due to "the gravity of the situation".
DS Coombs added: "We have a lot of very young witnesses here that are very understandably distressed, we will treat them very very carefully, and speak to them with their parents or an appropriate adult and make sure that we put in place all the special measures that we need to do to gather their evidence but with regard to their age.
"We are working with [Ava's family] very closely, they are obviously extremely distressed."
Ms Coombs said officers would be trawling through hundreds of hours of CCTV and urged members of the public who were in the city centre to check their phones for photos and footage which might help the investigation.
Assistant Chief Constable Ngaire Waine added: "You never want a 12-year-old to be murdered. Liverpool, no city, would want this to happen.
"It's very sad for the city but it is even sadder for her family, their lives are never going to be the same.
"We will put everything we can to ensure we get justice for her but then I'm sure we will be looking at whether there were things we could have done, or our partners could have done, that might have made a difference because we never want another 12-year-old, here or anywhere else, to be murdered when they are out and about having fun with their friends.
"We have got four people in custody at the moment and we are not looking for anyone else. This is an isolated incident, it is not connected with anything else as far as we know at this stage.
"This is a very, very rare event, so I hope that will reassure people."
A balloon was left by 17-year-old Lacey, who did not want to give her surname, who said her younger sister had been close friends with Ava.
She said: "She was just a bubbly character, so loving and caring.
"She came out with her friends to enjoy herself and I think it's just wrong that this has happened."
Whilst Rebecca Flynn, headteacher of Ava's former school, Trinity RC Primary, said: "Our prayers and thoughts are with Ava's family and her friends. We are left with lasting memories of a bright and respectful little girl."