Devastated family and friends of loving Portsmouth dad Frankie Fitzgerald who was killed in Leigh Park stage balloon release in his memory
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Frankie Fitzgerald’s body was found by police at a property in Botley Drive last Sunday, in a discovery that rocked the community.
Detectives have since launched a murder investigation and charged two women in connection with the 25-year-old dad-of-two’s death.
On Saturday evening dozens of Mr Fitzgerald’s friends and family came together on Portsdown Hill to remember him.
Balloons, carrying pictures of Frankie and his loved one, were released during the emotional commemoration, organised by Mr Fitzgerald’s heartbroken older sister, Karla Smith.
Speaking out for the first time since her brother’s death, 31-year-old Karla described how her little brother’s loss had left her family feeling crushed.
She said: ‘His death has just broken our whole family. But it has brought us closer together.
‘We were so close as a family anyway. But losing Frankie has broken our hearts.
‘No-one ever thinks something like this is going to happen.
‘He would not hurt a fly. This is why it’s so tragic. He wasn’t a horrible person. He didn’t deserve to die like this.
‘He was my baby brother. He was special. He was always there for me.
‘He was always so funny. He had the biggest grin. He was just amazing. I didn’t know anybody who didn’t like him. He was so loved.’
Friends described Mr Fitzgerald, of Halstead Road, Wymering, as a ‘diamond’ who would ‘do anything for anyone’.
Among those paying tribute on Saturday evening was Michael Newman, who had known Frankie since he was 13.
Michael, 27, said: ‘He was a diamond. He had a heart of gold. No matter what was going on, he would always be there for you.
‘His mum loved him so much. He was her whole world. He was special. He was one of a kind.’
Speaking of when he found out about Frankie’s death, Michael added: ‘I couldn’t cope when I heard. Karla called me while I was down in Southsea. I just broke down crying my eyes out.
‘You never think anything like that will ever happen. Frankie was a diamond geezer.’
Chloe Burgess, 25, went to King Richard School – now known as Castle View Academy – with Frankie and was devastated by his death.
She said: ‘He was always grinning. Everyone in the school loved Frankie. When I heard he had died I couldn’t believe it.’
Pal Lily Fletcher, 25, was in the same year as Frankie at school and added: ‘You could never win an argument with him because he would always just end up making you laugh. Everyone got with him.’
Detectives have charged Shaye Groves, 26, of Botley Drive, with murder, and Lauren White, 26, of Cheltenham Road, Portsmouth, for failing to comply with a section 49 notice to disclose a pin code for a mobile phone during the police investigation.
Neither entered pleas during their appearance at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court last week.
Meanwhile, a fundraiser has been launched to help Frankie’s family pay for his funeral. To donate, see gofundme.com/f/wkx6h-frankie