The father of Anthony Ward told mourners that he has “no badness in my heart”, towards his former partner, who has been charged with the murder of their son.

Mark Ryan told a packed church that he was heartbroken over the loss of his 8-year-old son, who was found dead in their home last Monday morning. A post mortem found the young boy died from suffocation.

Diane Ward (43) was remanded in custody on Wednesday for the killing of her young son. She did not attend Thursday’s funeral mass at Church of the Holy Cross in Charleville, in north Cork.

Over 600 people packed into the Cork church on Thursday, according to the Irish Independent.  The funeral cortege was led by Anthony’s piebald pony Tonto.

His white coffin was covered with mementos from his life. A photo of Tonto, a small teddy bear, his riding helmet, his Charleville Taekwon-Do club uniform and baby photos.

The father spoke about how he was heartbroken he would never get the chance to buy his son a horse.

"There is just one thing I just didn't get him and that was a horse. He wanted a horse and I kept saying to him that I will get him for you when you are 10. Anthony, I hope that heaven is full with horses and that you can have whatever choice you want," he said.

Fighting back tears Tom Ward, the brother of Diane Ward, told mourners his sister was a devoted mother.

"Diane was a daughter, a sister and a mother who over the past eight years lived her life for Anthony. She devoted all her time, energy and effort into Anthony. Diane and Mark happily spoiled him and made sure he wanted for nothing including love," Ward said.

"Anthony turned eight only three weeks ago -- he was a free spirit who spent all his time going nowhere fast. TV and books were not for Anthony -- he adored his pony, his bike, his go-cart and his Taekwon-Do.

"He was passionate, mischievous and loved life. His sudden shock departure has left a huge void in our lives and we all miss seeing him the endless animated energy and excitement in the big dark eyes -- he was a gorgeous little boy who touched us as only an angel can," he sobbed.


Funeral procession for eight-year-old Anthony Ward led by his pony and familyIrish Times