The family of a seven-year-old boy who died on a construction site in Barnsley have called on local residents to stop “casting aspersions” that he was out without an adult on the day he died.
Conley Thompson was found on a building site in Worsbrough Dale, near his home, on the morning of July 27 after being reported missing the previous evening. He was last seen at nearby Locke Park in the town.
South Yorkshire Police said there were no suspicious circumstances and revealed that a post-mortem examination showed Conley had entered a vertical pipe and was unable to get out.
The force said Conley’s funeral will take place on Tuesday in Barnsley. Police are continuing their investigation to establish the circumstances leading up to the death and to trace Conley’s exact movements after 6pm on July 26.
In a statement released today, the boy’s family said members of the local community had been “casting aspersions” that he was at Locke Parke without an adult.
The statement said: “It is with great sadness and a broken heart that we find ourselves writing this. Words cannot describe the devastation we feel, especially for his mum.
“Firstly, the family would be grateful if any members of the community that are casting aspersions relating to Conley ever attending at Locke Park without an adult, either on the day he went missing or before that day, be kept to themselves.
“We want to make it very clear that we would never have allowed Conley to go to Locke park without an adult at any time, and the police are tracing his exact movements that night so we will be able to understand what happened and what led to us losing our playful and loving boy.
“For any parent, the loss of a child is unimaginable and while everyone is entitled to their own opinion, we would please ask people to bear in mind this is now an actual reality for us, and please be respectful as his mum, and all of the family, try to come terms to a life without Conley.
“To describe Conley you would have to say he was cheeky, mischievous and loud, but also loving and caring, with a heart of gold.
“As with most boys his age, Conley lived life large and loud, with a zest for adventure and curiosity.
“His mum and the rest of the family would like to give a special and heart felt thank you to all the officers, both from the police and the Fire Service, who helped searched for Conley, as well as all the friends, neighbours and members of the community.
“You should be proud of your efforts and your conduct throughout and we cannot thank you enough for your help in trying to find him. We would also like to thank Lyndsey and Steve, the Police Family Liaison Officers, who have helped us through this difficult time.
“To our local community and the people of Barnsley, as well as to those across the UK, we have been overwhelmed by the kindness and support shown and we also want to say a very special thank you to everyone who has offered words of comfort and their condolences, it really does means so much to us all. Thank You.”
It is believed that Conley died when he got stuck in a vertical plastic pipe and his clothing restricted his breathing on the site in Worsbrough.
Conley vanished after playing with friends in Locke Park, a mile away from the site and about two miles away from his home in Barnsley, police said.
He had gone to play at about 6pm on Sunday and was due to return home around two hours later, but never turned up.
South Yorkshire Police said officers had checked the building site in the hours of darkness after Conley was reported missing on Sunday night, but they found it to be securely locked with a large perimeter fence.
Detective Chief Inspector Dave Stopford, the senior investigating officer, said: “The results of the post-mortem suggest that Conley had, by some means, entered a vertical pipe on a nearby construction site and was unable to get out.
“Conley’s weight caused him to fall further into the pipe and pushed his clothing up around his body restricting his breathing.”