Funeral held for girl found dead at uncle's house

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A woman sobbed today as she watched the coffin of her killed 12-year-old daughter being carried into church.

Schoolgirl Tia Rigg was discovered strangled and stabbed in an upstairs bedroom at her uncle's house in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, earlier this month.

Many of the hundreds of mourners who gathered for the funeral wore pink - Tia's favourite colour - to honour her "bubbly personality".

Her mother Lynne Rigg, who was wearing a pink scarf, was comforted by family as Tia's small pink coffin was taken into St James Church in Cheetham Hill.

It had arrived by horse-drawn carriage, the coffin enclosed in glass, pulled by two horses wearing plumes of pink feathers.

During the service, the mourners sang the hymns Great Is Thy Faithfulness and The Lord Is My Shepherd.

Reverend Simon Cook paid tribute to the schoolgirl, saying her "young life ended too soon". The pain of losing Tia is "very raw and very real", he added.

"Above all else, Tia's heart was for her family - especially her brothers and sisters, who she loved to look after, but also her cousins, her aunts, her uncles and grandparents.

"She was full of energy, full of life. She was a happy girl, strong-willed and free spirited, and a bubbly personality."

Tia, a Manchester United fan who always wore a Rooney football shirt, was a member of a local scout group and enjoyed netball, swimming, trampolining and football, he said.

But she was also "a girly girl" who loved clothes, make-up and music.

Dinner ladies from Albion High School in Salford, where Tia was a pupil, also paid their respects.

The funeral was followed by a private family burial at Southern Cemetery in Chorlton.

Twelve pink balloons were released at her graveside to mark each year of her life.

Flowers spelling out her name, the word "sister", and her nickname Teapot, which another uncle called her from the age of three, were taken to the grave.

In the build-up to the funeral, Tia's family paid tribute to her.

Ms Rigg said: "She was my baby, she was my best friend and she was everything to me. She loved spending time with her brothers and sisters."

Tia's aunt, Susan Maden, added: "She was our beautiful princess. Such a bright, bubbly, very thoughtful girl who was kind and helpful. We will always remember her cheeky smile."

John Maden, 37, is charged with Tia's murder at his house on Dalmain Close, Cheetham Hill, on April 3. He is in custody and due to go on trial later this year.

Six days after the tragedy, Tia's mother, who had been struggling to cope with the tragedy, went missing from her Salford home.

She left a note saying "I want to be with Tia", but she was found hours later at a friend's house after widespread appeals.