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One year on, grieving family's Mass tribute to murdered Michaela

THE family of murdered schoolgirl Michaela Davis have paid an emotional tribute ahead of her first anniversary Mass.

Relatives and friends of the 12-year-old will gather at her local church in Clonsilla, Dublin, tonight to recall a "an angel so young at heart".

She was killed in the early hours of August 28 last year after going missing from her home in the The Village, Porterstown.

In advance of tonight's 7pm Vigil Mass, family members have penned short tributes to the tragic girl.

Her parents Deirdre and Brendan described her as "our little girl". "You left behind many broken hearts," they said, adding: "May you be at peace and shine like the stars above as on this day we send you our love."

Another relative said: "My tears flow when I think of you."

Michaela's family has been receiving strong support from neighbours and friends in preparation for the Mass by Fr Dan Joe O'Mahony at St Mochta's Church.

Her story shocked the country last summer as gardai spent hours searching for her.

She had told her parents shortly after midnight that she was just going out for a few minutes, but she did not return home.

Searches proved fruitless but later that morning a local walking a dog along the canalside not far from her home found Michaela's body concealed in the undergrowth.

She had been sexually assaulted and strangled.

Michaela's grieving father Brendan said yesterday he was making final preparations for tonight's anniversary Mass. In an interview with the Herald last month, he declared it had been "a hard year and it wasn't getting easier".

And he told how it was only with the help of neighbours and the close community that their family could cope with her loss.

"It is only with their support that we got through the shock of it all, and it is only with their continued support that we can try and move forward," he added.

Brendan also said that the heartfelt support of the local St Mochta's school, and all Michaela's schoolpals, was a constant strength to them as a family.

The anniversary Mass is being held tonight because Michaela's brother Brendan Jr had his graduation on the actual anniversary date.

Jonathan Byrne (18) of Lohunda Downs in Clonsilla now stands charged with her murder.