Teen in court as family prepare to bring schoolgirl's body home
The heartbroken mother and father of murdered schoolgirl Michaela Davis have spoken for the first time of how they are living through every parent's worst nightmare.
As they prepared to bring home their only daughter's body for the final time today, they described the 12-year-old's death as "the needless loss of a girl barely beginning life".
And they spoke poignantly of how she had been due to hand in her first secondary school homework today.
Her parents, Deirdre and Brendan, said that their little girl was a child who was full of life and brought them much joy.
"She was very close to her mam, dad and brother Brendan," they said.
"They were always there for one another. Michaela had started her first day of secondary school on Thursday last. She was given her first homework . . . never to be answered."
Michaela had just started first year at Luttrellstown Community College in west Dublin when her life was cut short.
"All Michaela's friends are heartbroken at the moment and cannot get their heads around this tragedy, no more than the rest of the extended family and friends. The awful loss of a young child, the needless loss of a girl barely beginning life.
"This situation is not and never will be about the crime or the perpetrator, it's about Michaela, and the realisation of a parent's worst fear -- to lose a child so full of life," the statement ended.
The statement was released as the Davis family prepared for the return of Michaela's body today.
It came after Jonathan Byrne (18), of Lohunda Downs, Clonsilla, Dublin, was charged with her murder.
Following the completion of a post-mortem examination, Michaela's body will be released to the family and will remain in the family home in The Village, Porterstown.
The funeral will take place at midday on Thursday at the nearby St Mochta's Church. Burial will take place afterwards in Clonsilla Churchyard.
Her funeral will come just three months after Michaela made her confirmation at St Mochta's alongside her friends.
The parish priest, The Very Reverend John Daly, who officiated at the ceremony, is expected to say her funeral Mass.
Yesterday, Michaela's grief-stricken classmates began their first formal day of secondary schooling with a counselling session.
The stunned children had first attended Luttrellstown Community College last Thursday for their induction day -- and just 48 hours later the body of the 12-year-old was found dumped in undergrowth beside the Royal Canal, near Blanchardstown, west Dublin.
Principal Fionnuala Ni Chaisil said that a critical incident team and a psychiatric support service from Dublin VEC were on hand.
The counsellors attended the school from 8am in order to offer support to students when they arrived.
She said that although she met with the distraught students first thing, they tried to continue classes as normal. "They (the students) are our priority," she added.
A number of parents went to the school to enrol their children for the next academic year and spoke of their shock.
"You always think these kind of things happen in another country, or at least in another neighbourhood," said one worried father.
"You can't watch children 24/7 but it certainly makes you think."
A resident of Jonathan Byrne's family home was reluctant to speak of the tragic incident.
"We don't want to make any comment at this time," she said. "I don't know if we'll be saying anything at all."
The road leading to Michaela's home was reopened last night after gardai completed their forensic examination of the area. Her body was found in thick undergrowth on Saturday evening by a man walking his dog.
She was last seen around midnight on Friday night and was reported missing a few hours later.
Neighbours walking to and from the quiet estate yesterday said they have been "stunned" by the incident, with many first hearing the news on Sunday morning through the media.
The primary school, where she had studied for eight years, is just a short walk from her home.
Principal Terry Allen said she was a "lovely child".
"The thoughts and prayers of our whole school community at this very sad and upsetting time are with Michaela's family, to whom we extend our deepest sympathies on their tragic loss," he said.
"She was a lovely child who had so much to give and live for."