Neighbours reeling after death of 'bubbly little soul'

Ferro James Sio, 5, is being remembered as a bubbly little boy. Photo: Supplied via NZ Herald
Ferro James Sio, 5, is being remembered as a bubbly little boy. Photo: Supplied via NZ Herald
A Union St tree in Rotorua is adorned with teddies and flowers. Underneath it garden lights are stuck in the ground with messages written on them. Opposite it, is the house he was living in before suffering fatal injuries.

Old Town Road and Baby Shark were his favourite songs. Green and blue were his favourite colours, the messages read.

This week police launched a homicide inquiry into the death of 5-year-old Ferro James Sio on February 8.

His father, William James Sio, 24, has been charged with assaulting a child and police have indicated further charges are likely.

A person close to the family, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the relationship between William and Ferro.

She said Ferro was a "happy-go-lucky, full of joy, bubbly little soul", who loved and cherished his cousins just as they love and cherished him.

"Ferro's family in Rotorua miss him so much and are so lost not having him around," she said.

"We love you, baby boy, thank you for entering our lives."

The father and son lived at a property the Ministry of Social Development has confirmed was social housing.

Four adults and Ferro lived in one half of the property.

A woman told the Rotorua Daily Post she was often at the property as her partner lived in one of the other rooms.

Speaking anonymously, she said she would change everything if she could go back in time.

Through tears, she said she could not believe the little boy had died, and though she didn't hear anything on Saturday night, she wished she had done something.

Through broken sentences she sobbed, as she had for the past few days, and said what happened hit harder because she was a mother of five.

"It's really hit us hard, knowing the boy died and we were here."

She was at the property on Friday and Saturday night and had not heard a thing until she was woken up by police at 1.30am.

"It was all a shock to us. We didn't hear a thing until the cops woke us up," she said.

Neighbour Kamaea Green, who lived in the other half of the house with her partner and 3-year-old, had her mind reeling.

The family was home on Saturday night but Green was not aware of anything until she was questioned by police.

She said the father and son had only moved in about a month ago and it took them a while to realise a child was living there as she had only seen him once.

Her daughter had placed one of her teddies by the tree outside the property.

Newman Kaur, another neighbour, said she did not see anything suspicious and the death had left them "shocked".

She said she saw the police tape when she left for work but only found out a homicide investigation was under way after reading the news.

"The death of this little boy is extremely distressing," said Oranga Tamariki North deputy chief executive services for children and families Glynis Sandland.

She said they were not able to comment further because of the ongoing police investigation.

Sio is due to reappear in court on March 3.