Toddler found dead in ditch

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The Independent Online
A body believed to be that of the missing toddler, John Bristow, was found in a water-filled ditch only 30 yards from his home in a travellers' camp in Kent yesterday.

A police diver found the body wedged under rubbish 5ft under water during a search of the area around the 21-month-old boy's home near Lydd. It is thought he fell in accidentally.

John was last seen at 5pm on Sunday as he played outside his home on the caravan site. The search was delayed by a misunderstanding between his mother, Tracey Beaney, and his grandmother, Annie Beaney.

His mother believed he had gone into Lydd with his grandmother and did not realise that he was missing until the latter returned. Travellers on the site immediately searched the area and called in the police.

Paul Bristow, his father, said before the body was found he feared that John had been abducted. After the discovery there were scuffles and some travellers shouted abuse at police for having called off the search during the night.

But Douglas Dunn, John's grandfather, said the family was not blaming officers. "This is so hard to take. We believed he was still alive and would be all right. The family is shell-shocked. John's mum is tearful and very upset. "There is no question of blaming the police. They were searching until late and they did their best."

Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Felton said the body was not found earlier because divers had to enter the ditch in darkness and feel their way through debris. "Conditions then were very bad, with iron and rubbish filling up the ditch, which was in nine feet of water. It was very murky and there were very high winds."