Today, (Monday 11 July) a 15-year-old boy has been sentenced for the murder of 12-year-old Ava White in Liverpool city centre in November.
Ava died on Thursday 25 November 2021, after being stabbed to the neck following an altercation on School Lane in Liverpool city centre, moments after the Christmas lights switch on in Liverpool city centre.
At about 8.40pm Ava was with friends near the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool city centre when they were approached by a group of boys. A verbal argument followed after one of the boys filmed them, which he later shared on Snapchat.
Ava told the boy to stop filming and delete the video and after the argument continued, Ava was stabbed in the neck on School Lane before making her way to nearby Church Alley.
When officers arrived in Church Alley they found Ava collapsed on the ground and a member of the public who witnessed the incident was giving first aid. Officers assisted with first aid before paramedics attended shortly after and Ava was taken to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, where she sadly died a short time later despite the best efforts of medical staff.
The offender, then 14, was arrested and charged with her murder, on 28 November, and convicted by a jury of her murder on 24 May this year by a unanimous verdict.
He was today sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court to life, to serve a minimum of 13 years. The judge also ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the knife and told the offender to pay a victim surcharge.
In her victim personal statement, Ava’ mother Leanne White spoke poignantly of her profound loss.
She said: “The moment Ava died is now, yesterday, tomorrow and forever.
“It is the past, the present and the future. It was not just one finite horrific moment in time that happened last whenever, it is not just the moment, hour, and the second our lives became permanently divided into before and after.
“November last year the light of my life was dimmed forever. She was taken in such cruel and tragic circumstances.
“When I think back to that tragic day, I remember how excited she was for Christmas, how happy she was going into the town centre to watch the Christmas lights being switched on.
“Ava was given permission to stay out later than normal - 8.30pm - so she could go to town and then to visit the shops. Never could I imagined that I would never see my beautiful baby alive again.
“How I miss my beautiful girl. My heart is broken. I will never hear her laughter, I will never hold her in my arms. I still hear the laughter and can see the beautiful smiling face of my 12-year-old baby.
“That is all I have to hold on to, precious memories are all I have left of my Ava.”
Detective Chief Inspector Judith Blease, said: "All of our thoughts and deepest sympathies today are with Ava White’s mum Leanne White, her dad Robert Martin and sister Mia who are clearly still struggling to come to terms with the heart-breaking loss of their daughter and sister.
"Since Ava’s senseless murder on that horrific night on Thursday 25 November last year they have suffered immeasurable grief and distress.
“I would like to thank the officers involved in the investigation for helping secure a conviction, as well as the family liaison officers who continue to help Ava’s family through this tragic process.
“Ava’s friends, while themselves experiencing the tragedy of losing a close friend at a young age, have also been a source of great comfort and support for her family.
“Following the tragedy of Ava’s death, the people of Liverpool did what they do best and came together to show their support for Ava’s family and send a very clear message about knife crime, and I know that was of great comfort to the family and will continue to be in the difficult years ahead.”
Detective Superintendent Sue Coombs said: "Ultimately while we have today seen Ava’s murderer jailed, nothing can ever bring Ava back.
“I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the members of the public and security staff at Liverpool One who were first to the scene and who did everything they could to save Ava, as well as Ava’s friends, officers and paramedics who all came to Ava’s aid and did their very best under such horrifying circumstances.
"The investigation team and the Crown Prosecution Service have worked tirelessly over the past year to bring this case to court and I would like to thank them for their dedication and support during the trial.
"Today’s convictions are the result of a collective determination to bring the suspect to justice.”
Superintendent Phil Mullally, Merseyside Police Serious Violence & Knife crime lead, said: “The evening of 25 November 2021 shocked our community to its core.
“I hope today’s sentencing shows our officers will do everything in our power to continue to take knives off the streets and out of the hands of criminals.
“All year round our officers conduct open land searches, stop searches, targeted operations and high visibility patrols, as well as working closely with our communities, visiting schools and involving safeguarding partners.
“In May, our Operation Sceptre week of action not only saw enforcement activity such as knife sweeps and open land searches, but also officers spending time with young people, working to educate them about the dangers carrying a knife can lead to, and this activity will continue.
“We know that those who pick up a knife are more likely to fall victim to knife crime, and we hope this type of intervention will deter them from getting involved in this type of criminality and make them think twice before picking up a knife.”
Supt Mullally added: “During the last year we have seen a reduction in reports of knife crime. Since 2019, the proportion of serious violence victims who were aged between 11 and 15 years old, where a knife has been used or threatened to be used, has gone down from 10.3% to 9.9% in 2022.
“Figures also show 5.2% of victims of Section 18 assaults, where a knife was involved, were aged 11-15 in 2021-22 - down from 8.5% in 2018-19.
"The figures are heading in the right direction, but we still need the public to help us take such dangerous weapons out of circulation and continue our investigations. If you have any information on knife crime in your area please contact police so we can continue to keep our streets safe.”
Anyone with information on knife crime in their area can DM @MerPolCC on Twitter, call 101 or call @CrimestoppersUK anonymously on 0800 555 111.