Parents pay tribute to 'social butterfly' aged seven stabbed to death

Helen Pidd North of England editor
Photograph: GMP/PA

The family of a seven-year-old girl who was killed in a “random act of violence” in a park in Greater Manchester have paid tribute to her.

Emily Jones died after being stabbed in Queen’s Park in Bolton on Sunday afternoon in front of her parents and people out celebrating Mother’s Day.

A woman arrested at the scene has since been detained under the Mental Health Act and remains in a secure facility. She did not know the girl, police said.

Emily’s parents said: “Emily was seven years old, our only child and the light of our lives. She was always full of joy, love and laughter. Emily had such a cheeky smile and was beautiful inside and out. She had a heart as big as her smile.

“Emily was never happier than when she was spending time with her family and friends. She was our own little social butterfly. Emily had a passion for the outdoors and loved to play any sport, even when she was wearing her pink sparkly dresses.

“We are beyond devastated that this random act of violence means that we will never get to see our beautiful little girl grow up into the wonderful young lady she was showing such promise of becoming.

“It is truly heartbreaking to wake up to a world without Emily in it and we cannot comprehend why this has happened.”

They thanked the members of the public who helped to detain the woman following the attack, as well as the emergency services, and they asked for privacy to grieve.

Greater Manchester police said that although the suspect was in secure detention she may yet face criminal charges.

The assistant chief constable Russ Jackson said this week: “I want to stress that this is not an end to the criminal investigation; we will consider the evidence and consult with the Crown Prosecution Service and if appropriate we will be seeking criminal charges.”

He commended the person who ran to help after witnessing the stabbing. “Having seen this horrendous attack, a member of the public bravely chased after the woman and detained her until police arrived and arrested her. I would like to thank him for his actions which enabled us to quickly arrest her and prevent anything else from happening.”

He added: “Several officers who attended the park were very young in service in the police, some with only weeks on independent police patrol. They and all the officers who went to the scene are incredibly upset over what has happened and all of us have this little girl and her family in our thoughts.”

Anyone with information about the attack should call 0161 856 8797 or 101 quoting incident number 1430 or email