33-year-old woman arrested and charged in connection with death of three-year-old Mikaeel Kular after discovery of body in Kirkcaldy

Sorrow and anger in Edinburgh community while police continue their investigation

Hundreds of people took to the streets of Edinburgh to search for three-year-old Mikaeel Kular, in a mood of optimism that it was only a matter of time before he was found. But on Saturday night police were trying to work out how he ended up dead in woods nearly 30 miles away.

Police confirmed that a 33-year-old woman had been arrested and charged as part of the investigation into the death of Mikaeel, whose body they confirmed they found earlier in Kirkcaldy, Fife. They said the woman would appear at Edinburgh Sheriffs Court on Monday morning. The developments were described by Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, as "the news we have all been dreading".

As detectives attempted to piece together the events that led up to, and followed, Mikaeel's disappearance, community leaders in Edinburgh urged people not to jump to conclusions about what had happened.

However, social media were awash with unsubstantiated speculation about the death; police said they were aware of racist comments on Twitter. At least one person, from the Greater Manchester area, was being investigated over an allegedly offensive tweet.

 

Ms Kular, a mother of five, had told detectives that she discovered her son was missing on Thursday morning after putting him to bed the previous night. His brown jacket, multicoloured gloves and shoes were gone.

Initially police said Mikaeel might have left the flat by himself, but neighbours expressed doubts that a child of three would have been capable of opening the heavy main door to the apartment block.

The charges followed the discovery of the body late on Friday night. Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham, who looked visibly shaken when announcing the news a short time later, Almost 24 hours later they confirmed the body was indeed that of Mikaeel".

"A person has been detained in connection with the recovery of the body and members of Mikaeel's family have been informed of the recovery," he said. "Our thoughts and sympathies are with them at this time."

ACC Graham praised the community in North Edinburgh who turned in large numbers to help search for the missing child before his body was discovered. He said a further 500 calls had been received from the public looking to help officers with their inquiries.

The house in Kirkcaldy and nearby woods were cordoned off by police as forensic teams scoured the area on Saturday. At about 4pm, an ambulance reported to be carrying the boy's body was seen leaving the area.

Ms Kular, a beauty therapist, is said to have separated from a man she married in her early twenties and was living with a new partner. She previously wrote a light-hearted post about herself online, saying that she lived with "just me, myself and I ... oh yeah, with a brood of five monsters, six if you count the man indoors!"

A steady stream of mourners left flowers and cuddly toys near the Kular family home in Ferry Gait Crescent, in the Drylaw area of Edinburgh. One note read: "This is so sad and a great loss to our street in Ferry Gait Crescent."

For two days, hundreds of local people had turned out to help search for Mikaeel, spending hours scouring the local streets and nearby coastline. Frank Arthur, 72, who lives in the flat above Ms Kular, said that he was finding the news "difficult to come to terms with". "Everybody has been rooting for that little kid. There's an awful lot of people who gave up time to go out and look for him."

Irvine Welsh, the author, who grew up in the area and had repeatedly taken to Twitter to encourage local people to help "bring the wee man hame", also expressed his sorrow. "So sad about wee Mikaeel but couldn't be more proud of where I come from & the amazing people there who tried everything to help out," he tweeted.

Members of the public lay tributes in Ferry Gate Crescent near the home of Mikaeel Kular Members of the public lay tributes in Ferry Gate Crescent near the home of Mikaeel Kular Denise Fergus, the mother of James Bulger, the two-year-old murdered in Liverpool in 1993, tweeted her condolences, saying: "My heart is aching for that poor boy Mikaeel Kular brings it all back so sad."

The Scottish parliamentarian Colin Keir, who had helped to look for Mikaeel, said the local community in Edinburgh was feeling "battered and bruised". He added: "I know exactly how these people are feeling. It's difficult not to get personally involved." But Mr Keir urged people not to let their emotions result in a rush to judgement.

"There's a post-mortem that has to happen. We need to find out how the young Mikaeel died and when he died, then we can start piecing things together," he said.

Local councillor Cammy Day, who was due to speak at a memorial service for the young boy at a local church on Saturday night, said the community was "absolutely devastated".

He praised the "wonderful, strong community spirit" displayed during the search for the boy, and said he hoped it would not be damaged by "the odd few ridiculous comments" made on social media.

"I'm hopeful there will be no repercussions locally. I know the police are doing something on that," Mr Day said. "We should not be making any assumptions, we should be leaving the investigation to police."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links