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Community in shock after murder of four-year-old boy in Bracken Bank, Keighley
7:00am Monday 21st January 2013 in News
A shocked community has paid tribute to a “cheerful and gorgeous” four-year-old boy who was murdered at his home.
The death sparked a major manhunt in the early hours of yesterday, with uniformed officers and police vans swarming the Bracken Bank area of Keighley and the nearby railway line at Ingrow, where the suspect was thought to have fled.
Police were called by the Ambulance Service to a house in Harewood Road, Keighley, at about 4.40am yesterday after reports a four-year old had died at the address.
The child was taken to Airedale General Hospital by ambulance where he was pronounced dead.
At 11.30am yesterday, a 32-year old man was arrested at an address in Ingrow on suspicion of the murder and was still being held in custody last night.
Yesterday, police were knocking door-to-door, showing residents a photo of a man they believed could help with their inquiries.
One of the family's neighboursMy heart is broken. I can’t imagine what his family are going through.
The name of the boy is expected to be confirmed by police later on Monday, although the family is believed to have lived at the house in Harewood Road for about 18 months, according to neighbours.
Stunned neighbours spoke of their “utter shock” at what happened, with many saying they were puzzled by what could possibly have been the motive.
At first people believed there had been a break-in at the house in the early hours of yesterday morning but, as the day progressed, others said they heard there had been a party that “had gone horribly wrong”.
One woman, who did not want to be named, described hearing “a commotion” break out, with shouts and doors slamming. She said: “I just put it down to a party. It was only when I looked out this morning I realised it was something much more.”
Although police have not confirmed how the boy died, people in the surrounding community said they understood he had been stabbed.
As snow fell on the freezing street yesterday, there was an unusual eerie hush as residents tried to come to terms with the tragedy.
One neighbour said: ”I can’t believe it. No one can. He was such a cheerful little boy. Him and his twin are usually up and down the street on their scooters; really friendly little boys.”
Another woman who lives just doors away from where it happened said: “I’ve just found out about the boy. My heart is broken. I can’t imagine what his family are going through. I haven’t a clue what’s gone on in that house.”
Another neighbour said: “I don’t know the adults in the house too well but the little lads always seemed happy when they were playing out. They’d always come up and ask to stroke the dog when they saw us coming.”
One woman, who also did not want to be named, said: “The twins were gorgeous little boys. You’d often see them walking up the street holding hands. I think they were identical twins, they certainly looked the same.”
Both boys were both pupils at Worth Valley Primary School about ten minutes walk away from where they lived.
Their mother was seen by neighbours being driven away in a car yesterday afternoon. They said she looked “as traumatised as you would expect a woman who’s lost one of her babies”.
“She looked dreadful. I know her and she will be absolutely devastated.”
Regulars at the Bracken Arms pub were questioning what the 32-year-old man arrested by police was doing in the house at that time of the morning.
“There are lots of questions people are asking. One of them is what was he doing in the house at that time?,” said one.
A resident living in Staveley Road, close to the home of the boy's father, said: “Everyone at first was thinking it had been a burglary because there’s been lots of doors being smashed in round here recently and things being nicked, but now we’ve heard they’d been out drinking and carried on back at their’s, a bit of a party - it just went horribly wrong.”
As darkness closed in on Harewood Road, police began to close down outer cordons around the scene. In all, there were believed to have been up to half a dozen sealed-off areas as police and forensics officers made their inquiries.
As well as the house in Harewood Road, flats at Harewood Rise opposite had been taped off, as was a rough pathway at the back of Staveley Road through open ground leading down to Ingrow rail tunnel, which had also been closed off under guard, cancelling trains on that route.
Earlier in the day, intense searches had been carried out in the area with officers, some with sticks, sifted through bins and climbed up on garage roofs in the hunt for further evidence.
Forensics officers, in white suits, were also coming in and out of the house where the boy had lived.
Bosses on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway had given their full assistance to murder squad detectives when Ingrow Tunnel had to be cordoned off as part of the police inquiries.
Speaking last night, Kieran Pilsworth, head of marketing for the railway, said: “Services began as normal this morning but at about 11am the police asked us to close the tunnel.”