Boy, 14, charged with murdering schoolboy

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The Independent Online

A 14-year-old boy will appear in court tomorrow accused of murdering schoolboy Joe Geeling, whose body was found dumped in a park on Thursday.

The 11-year-old, who had cystic fibrosis, was discovered in an overgrown ditch in Whitehead Park, Bury, Greater Manchester.

A post-mortem examination revealed that Joe died of multiple stab wounds.

A police spokeswoman said the 14-year-old would appear in court in Greater Manchester on Monday.

The teenager was arrested only one hour after the body was found on Thursday morning after Joe disappeared while walking home from St Gabriel's RC High School the day before.

Joe's parents, Tom and Gwen, his sisters Kelly and Danielle and brothers Sean and James issued a joint statement saying he was a "special person" who did not let the fact he had cystic fibrosis hold him back.

They said: "Everybody wants us to make a statement or give a few comments on how much Joe meant to us and what a loss he will be.

"None of you have enough time to hear how much he meant to us. How do you condense 11 years of fun and love and heartache, worries and accomplishments etc etc etc into a few words?

"Without exaggeration I can say that Joe was one of those special people that if you ever met him and spent even five minutes talking to him he would leave an impression on you that you would remember and usually with fondness."

Later, choking back tears, Joe's father added his son supported Manchester City and also had a passion for motorbikes.

He said: "This is what I mean about him living his life to the full.

"We did not wrap him in cotton wool, and he did not let his illness restrict him.

"He could ride his bike good and he would fix his bike and he always had every weekend planned from the start.

"From the start to the finish he was 100mph.

"Joe loved school, although it was a very big effort for him to get there.

"There are no outward signs of someone who suffers from cystic fibrosis.

"He did not want anyone to know how ill he was, and he would not realise how different he was to other children."

Tributes will be paid today to Joe by his local community at a series of special church services in Bury, including the family's local church, St Marie's.

A spokesman for the Catholic community in Bury said: "We are deeply saddened by the news of Joe Geeling's death and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very sad time.

"News of his death has shocked the whole community, especially his school friends, teachers, friends of his family and fellow parishioners.

"Since news of his disappearance was announced on Wednesday, our school and parish communities have been comforted greatly by the prayers and support of everybody in the borough.

"Prayers will be offered during all Masses throughout the town this weekend for Joe and his family and for all those affected by his death."

Joe's headteacher, Eddie Robinson, also paid tribute to the schoolboy, describing him as "a lovely, well-mannered boy".

He said: "Naturally our school community is shocked by the death of Joe Geeling, one of our year 7 pupils and our thoughts and prayers are very much with his family at this difficult time.

"Joe was a lovely well-mannered boy who is going to be greatly missed by all of his teachers, friends and fellow pupils here at St Gabriel's."