Heartbreaking tributes are being paid to a schoolboy who came to the UK for a “better future” and was found dead two days before his 13th birthday.
The body of 12-year-old Roberts Buncis was found on a patch of common land in the quiet village of Fishtoft, Lincolnshire, just after 10am on Saturday.
Roberts, who would have turned 13 today (Monday), was described as a “kind” and “popular” student at Haven High Academy, in Boston, who was destined for a “life of joy, happiness and success”.
Originally from Latvia, he was being raised by his single father Edgars Buncis, who brought him to the UK to give him a better life, a family friend said.
A 14-year-old boy appeared in court on Monday after being charged with murder, and a 19-year-old man arrested at the weekend remains in police custody.
The 14-year-old suspect, who cannot be named for legal reasons was remanded in custody.
Family friend Edijs Peculis said that Roberts moved to the UK from his native Latvia six years ago.
Mr Peculis said: “He was a nice boy, originally from the Latvian city Liepaja.
“Edgars with Roberts came for the first time to England in 2014 December.
“Edgars is a hard-working man and for a better future for the child the family moved to Boston.
“Today is Roberts’ birthday.”
It is understood Roberts’ mum lives in Latvia.
Heartbroken friends wishes Roberts a happy birthday “in heaven”, with one writing on Facebook: “May you have the best time of your life up there and party hard for your 13th.”
A devastated school friend said that Roberts was a popular student at Haven High Academy, where they would chat about YouTube channels.
The 12-year-old boy said: “He was kind, caring and he often came up to me and said ‘do you want to talk’ and that.
“He did have a lot of friends that he used to play with.
“Those that do know him, they’re sad.”
Flowers and a tie, which is part of Roberts’ school’s uniform, were left at a memorial near the scene of the alleged murder
Paying tribute on social media, a family friend wrote: “Another innocent child lost… I can’t believe that you’re gone already at such a young age.
“You were such a sweet boy and would put such big smiles on peoples faces.
“I can’t believe the pain your family is going through right now, this news is so devastating, and it happened so fast.
“The pain that your family and close friends are going through now is unbelievable. You’re missed by so many.”
Posting a picture of Roberts, another wrote: “Rest in peace lil bro we love and miss you.”
She later replied to a friend’s message of condolence saying: “It’s cruel here.”
Haven High Academy held an assembly for grieving students and staff on Monday morning.
Headteacher Matthew Van Lier described Roberts as a “popular young man” who was destined for a “life of joy, happiness and success.”
He said in a statement: “Today is an unbelievably sad day for Haven High and the wider community.
“Yesterday we were informed that a member of our academy had been taken away from his family and friends well before his time.
“To make the situation even worse, today he would have been celebrating his 13th birthday.
“He was a popular young man destined for a life of joy, happiness and success and today we should try to remember him in that way.
“We are all bound by a clear vision and set of values that create a synchronicity of commitment to learning and preparation for a future career of choice.
“Words cannot describe the shared sadness that we all feel today as the hopes and dreams of one of our students will never be realised.
“This news defies all belief, we all still expect him to walk around the corner with his friends, laughing and joking, plotting how to get away without completing his home learning and trying to remember what lesson to attend next.
“At times of sadness we often turn to the greatness of others like the Greek philosopher Aristotle who once said: ‘It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.’
“Today is that day where we as the Haven High family must focus to see the light.
“We must consider the people who are left behind to carry the burden of grieving.
“Put yourself in the shoes of the mother who has just lost her child and think about the respect that she deserves when committing words to social media.
“Make those words supportive and uplifting, create images of joy and laughter not ones of sorrow and sadness.
“Remember Winston Churchill told us: ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’.
“Today we give to the memory of our lost friend.”
A JustGiving page has been set up to support Roberts’ family, raising more than £12,000 within about 12 hours.
The organiser wrote: “As many of us are now aware, Roberts Buncis life was tragically taken from his family and friends on Saturday 12th December, he was 12 years old.
“Roberts comes from a single parent family, just Roberts and his Dad Edgars and therefore we would like to help with costs for the funeral and also to make this time easier for his family, money is always right for everyone at this time of year, so anything that can be donated would be hugely appreciated, even if it is only a few pounds.
“Thank you and god bless you all.”
The 14-year-old suspect appeared for a five-minute hearing at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court on Monday.
Wearing a grey sweater,, the teenager spoke only to confirm his name, address and date of birth, before he was remanded to appear at Lincoln Crown Court later in the day.
A Lincolnshire Police spokesperson said before the hearing: “Following formal identification we are now in a position to name the boy who lost his life in this tragic incident as 12-year-old Roberts Buncis.
“A 14-year-old boy has been charged with his murder. He has been remanded and will appear at court this morning.
“The 19-year-old man, arrested yesterday, remains in police custody.”
Detective Superintendent Martyn Parker said previously: “This is a devastating incident in which a young boy has lost his life. The impact will no doubt be felt greatly in the community and beyond.
“This type of incident is not what we would expect to see within our communities. We are working with those affected to keep them informed and offer our support.
“I want to reassure the public that we will do all in our power to meticulously investigate the circumstances of this young boy’s death and we would urge anyone who has any information that could support this investigation to get in touch.”
A spokesperson added: “We would like to make a direct appeal for anyone with external facing CCTV covering the junction of Freiston Road and Woodthorpe Avenue, and the entire length of Wing Drive and Alcorn Green for any footage between the hours 8.00 pm on 11 December and 10.22 am 12 December 2020.”
Anyone with information should contact police on 101 quoting incident 116 of December 12 or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111