School ‘heartbroken’ by loss of seven-year-old girl stabbed to death in park
A seven-year-old girl randomly stabbed to death in a park was "a ray of sunshine" who lit up a room with her smile, her teachers have said.
Emily Jones was attacked by a stranger in Queen's Park, Bolton, on Sunday March 22 and died a short time later.
A 30-year-old woman was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder. She was detained under the Mental Health Act and remains in a high-secure facility.
An inquest into Emily's death was opened on Wednesday and adjourned to July 3.
Her parents, who had taken her to the park on Mother's Day, said they were "beyond devastated" at the loss of their daughter who was "always full of joy, love and laughter".
Tributes to the youngster have also been paid by staff at her school.
In a letter posted on its website, the head teacher of Markland Hill Primary School, Louise Close, said: "On Sunday 22nd March one of our much loved pupils died as a result of an unprovoked attack at Queens Park, Bolton. We are all heartbroken.
"I am sure that none of us can begin to imagine the pain and anguish that the family are suffering at this time.
"I am sure that you all share thoughts and prayers for Emily, her family, her friends and anyone who knew her.
"I want you to know how much Emily was loved. She will be missed by all her friends and all the staff. Her loss has left a hole in our hearts and the school will never be the same again."
Staff who worked closest with Emily said she was "a loving little girl" who was "creative and loved to draw and write stories".
They added: "Emily was keen to do her work and would joke that she had finished before others had even written the date. She was popular amongst her peers and was friends with everyone.
"Her smile was infectious and it lit up the room. Emily was bubbly, sociable and a joy to be around. She was a ray of sunshine.
"What I remember about Emily is her smile, it was as big as she was, and she lit up a room. She has been tragically taken from us but she will never be forgotten."
A permanent memorial at the school is being planned.