Mass of the Angels for Britney

By Elizabeth Binning

Britney Abbott was the kind of little girl who people loved to be around.

She had a stunning smile and showed pride in everything she did.

But on Sunday afternoon the 9-year-old's life was cut short.

At 4pm Britney and her sister Shirvaun were flung out of the 4WD they were in when it crashed more than 100m down the side of Mt Wellington.

Britney died on the mountain while Shirvaun was taken to Starship Hospital with serious injuries.

Moments before the crash police, who were at a Mt Wellington address, were told about fears for the girls' safety. But there was not enough time for them to act.

After speaking with witnesses to the crash and examining the wreckage, police charged the injured driver with Britney's murder and the attempted murder of Shirvaun.

The man, who is related to the girls, remains in Auckland Hospital under police guard.

A bedside court hearing planned for yesterday was postponed but police said they hoped to hold it before a judge as soon as possible.

Friends and family will today farewell Britney with a Mass of the Angels celebration at St Bernadette's Church in Mt Wellington.

Her family have asked for privacy as they deal with her death.

This week her schoolmates have dealt with the tragedy in their own way.

Both Britney and Shirvaun had hearing difficulties and attended Kelston Deaf Education Centre.

Principal David Foster described Britney as a friendly, hardworking child who was well liked and a pleasure to teach.

"We just loved having her as part of our school community."

Mr Foster said he was given the "heartbreaking" news of Britney's death on Sunday night.

On Monday morning he told staff, who then used a Herald article about the crash to help explain visually to the students what had happened.

"There were lots of tears and lots of hugs," he said.

The students then set about dealing with their loss in the best way they knew how.

"The children all drew pictures of Britney as they remembered her and they made cards for her mum. Our children in the preschool made a bunch of flowers for Shirvaun."

The flowers were given to the 4-year-old before she was released from Starship hospital while Mr Foster and some teachers took the cards and pictures to Britney's mother.

Mr Foster described the crash as a "tragic event".

"No parent expects to outlive their kids and no school expects to farewell a child from their school under these circumstances."

The preschool and primary school is closed today to allow staff to attend Britney's service.

Mr Foster's staff and students now try to look forward as they cling to a lasting reminder of little Britney Abbott.

"She just had the most stunning smile and that will be our lasting impression."

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