Mother of murdered Ava White says she struggles to go out as she remembers 'fun-loving' daughter

'She was funny, she was caring, she would do anything for anybody - she just had a heart of gold,' Ava White's mother Leeann told ITV News' Kelly Foran

Words by ITV News Producer Catherine Dinneny

She was a young girl out enjoying a Christmas lights switch-on with her friends. But when a row over a Snapchat video broke out, Ava White paid the price of standing up for herself with her life.

She was just 12 years old when she was stabbed in the neck by a 14-year-old boy she didn't know.

Today should have been Ava's 14th birthday, and 14 months on from her murder, Ava's mother Leeann White said the pain is with her every day.

Ava with her mother Leeann and older sister Mia. Credit: Family handout

Speaking for the first time to ITV News, Leeann said: "I struggle going out. I don’t really go out anymore.

"I don’t really like being around people. I don’t like anyone really coming to my house so I’m always on my own or with Mia.

"I can’t cook Scouse because that was one of her favourites. Even going shopping, it’s just hard."

Leeann described the impact her daughter's murder has had on her

Ava had been in Liverpool city centre with her friends on November 25, 2021 to see the Christmas lights being switched on.

They were approached by a group of boys and an argument started after one of the boys filmed Ava and her friends and shared it on social media.

Ava asked him to delete the video and as the argument continued, he stabbed her in the neck.

Leeann recalled the moment she found out: "I'd not long got home from work and my sister phoned me and told me Ava had been stabbed.

"I can just remember running and putting my coat on and phoning a taxi to get to town because she was still in town."

Leeann and Ava's sister Mia explain what they hope the new foundation will achieve

Ava's older sister Mia added: "I still don't think it's actually happened. I was screaming 'are you sure it's Ava? Are you sure it's her?'"

Ava was stabbed on School Lane, a narrow road at the back of Primark where Leeann worked.

"I think Ava went to the back of there because I worked there and she used to come and meet me there. Even though it's a little alleyway, it's where she used to meet me after work."

Ava was stabbed with a 7.5cm flick knife on the night of the Christmas lights switch on in Liverpool. Credit: Merseyside Police

After leaving her bleeding out, the teenager - whose identity is protected because of his age - laughed, ditched the three-inch blade he'd used to kill her and went to the shop to buy crumpets.

"How he acted so normal, it's unbelievable," said Leeann. "He went to a shop, stood in front of a camera and combed his hair trying to make himself an alibi. This is a 14-year-old kid we’re talking about and it’s scary."

Mia said: "I remember asking if they were sure it was him. I remember actually saying 'are you sure you’ve got the right person?' because I couldn’t comprehend that a child could do that."

The boy at a police station after he was arrested on suspicion of Ava's murder. Credit: Merseyside Police

In July last year, the boy was convicted of Ava's murder and sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 13 years. It means he could still be in his 20s when he's released.

Leeann told ITV News: "Life should mean life. He was old enough to know what he was doing. He was old enough to know he shouldn’t be walking round with a knife. He was old enough to know he shouldn’t have pulled it out and stabbed Ava in the neck.

"He took her life so he should spend his life in jail. We’ve got the life sentence. We’re living the life sentence, Ava’s living the life sentence."

Mia (left) said her and Ava could tell each other anything. Credit: Family handout

Leeann and her family have now set up a foundation in her daughter's name to tackle what they describe as a 'knife pandemic'.

The foundation carries the acronym AVA: Always Value A Life.

They have raised enough money to buy 50 bleed control kits for the local area and will soon be rolling out training in schools.

The bleed kits contain tourniquets and bandages to treat injuries such as stab wounds or other catastrophic bleeds. They can be used by anyone while waiting for emergency services to arrive.

"We’re in a knife pandemic," said 19-year-old Mia. "If I’m stopping another child from putting that [knife] in his pocket or their pocket and going out and using that, well our mission is done as a foundation."

Ava wanted to be an air hostess and travel the world, her mother says

Leeann added: "It's shocking how these crimes are happening on a daily basis. We want [to use the foundation] to hopefully reduce knife crime and violent crimes.

"We want to go round and teach the kids, educate them that this is not OK. This is not a world that we should be living in. We shouldn't be doing this to each other."

Remembering Ava on her birthday, Leeann described her as a 'fun loving dare devil'.

She said: "She was funny, she was caring, fun loving, a dare devil. She loved the fair. She’d do anything for anyone, she just had a heart of gold.

"She wanted to be an air hostess. She loved travelling and that was her dream to travel the world.

"She should be here with us, celebrating it."