The family of an autistic schoolboy stabbed to death in a park in broad daylight have described him at his funeral service as “a loving, caring, funny soul who would stick up for the underdog”.
Stuart Stephens, father of 13-year-old Oliver Lucas Stephens, said his son “touched so many lives without either us or himself knowing it” during a service at Reading Crematorium on Friday.
The teenager, known to friends as Olly, was fatally attacked at Bugs Bottom fields, Emmer Green, in Reading, on January 3.
A 13-year-old girl, a 13-year-old boy and a 14-year-old boy, who cannot be named because of their age, will go on trial in the summer accused of murder.
During the funeral, Mr Stephens described how Olly’s family felt “blessed” to have known him, adding: “The time we shared with Oliver is our most precious gift.”
Mr Stephens said: “Olly was our enigma, a square peg in a round hole, a puzzle to be solved, a teenager.
“We loved, nurtured, and cherished him. We never gave up.
“We used to talk about his autistic ‘superpower’ as we called it.
“Would he be a techno whiz, a musician, artist, or mathematical prodigy?
“Turns out his gift was the power of love.
“All of you here are testimony to this, we have all come for Olly.
“Oliver touched so many lives without either us or himself knowing it, we now know.”
Hundreds lined the streets to pay their respects, throwing red roses as the funeral procession made its way to the crematorium.
The brightly covered coffin, adorned with pictures of sweets, was accompanied by floral bouquets resembling a rainbow, a burger and a cola can, while another arrangement carried the message: “Love you bro.”
Mounted Thames Valley Police officers accompanied the hearse for the final section of the journey.
His father told mourners his son would be “embarrassed” by the fuss.
Mr Stephens added: “Olly was so full of promise, goals, and ambitions.
“We would dream of winning the lottery just so we could spend more time together and help other people improve their lives.
“Although this stage of his life was awkward for him, we felt he was finally accepting his autism on the morning of his passing.
“We had fought this battle and won, but the war was yet to come.”
Mr Stephens also thanked the community and the emergency services for their support following Olly’s death, which he said “shattered our lives with the force of a baby rhino”.
He said: “Please remember Olly as a loving, caring, funny soul who would stick up for the underdog, who would never back down from injustice, prejudice, inequality or cruelty.
“We will, God bless you son.
“Be a wolf and not a sheep, float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, fly so very high.”
The inquest into Olly’s death will open on Monday, February 8.