Two brothers being questioned over the alleged torture of two young boys in a disused quarry were in the care of troubled Doncaster social services, it emerged yesterday.
The pair, who are aged 10 and 11, have been accused of a series of violent incidents and anti-social behaviour in and around New Edlington in South Yorkshire where the attack took place on Saturday.
The parents of the two victims, aged nine and 11, were at their hospital bedsides last night as police were granted more time to question the brothers.
The victims were described by neighbours as regular lads, who loved football and came from a close and loving family. They had been out cycling on the first day of the Easter holidays when they were stabbed and slashed with a knife before being burnt with cigarettes and hit with a brick.
Yesterday, another boy, Callam Reynolds, 11, came forward to claim that he had been attacked in a similar manner a week before. He said he feared he was "going to die" as he walked to a friend's house for a game of football. He said he was lured to the same spot and then attacked. "I fell on the floor and then I felt this boot stamping down on my face," he said.
"They were shouting they we're going to kill me, they were going to smash my head with a brick and then stab me with a knife, and they were going to dump me in the pond," he added. He eventually ran away when a man passed by. His mother Kerry, 37, said it took police 24 hours to respond to her complaint.
The condition of the most seriously injured of the two boys who suffered a life-threatening injury after being pushed down a wooded ravine close to allotments in the Brick Ponds area had improved yesterday. He was said to be stable after being taken off a ventilator at Sheffield Children's Hospital but was still too ill to be able to talk to detectives. His nephew and close friend was due to undergo further surgery for a severe cut to his arm.
Locals said the two boys were well-known among local residents having moved back to the village just a few weeks ago.
In a statement, Doncaster Council, which has faced mounting criticism over its child protection services, confirmed the two were in foster care at the time of the attack.
Serious case reviews have been ordered into the deaths of seven children who died in the borough since 2004. Three months ago Children's Secretary, Ed Balls, sent in a new management team to take over the running of children's services at the authority.
Paul Hart, managing director of Doncaster Council, said: "This is a truly shocking and upsetting incident and we are working closely with our partners to assist the investigation."
The arrests follow a series of violent incidents in and around the former pit village. Police were understood to be investigating reports including local children being threatened for money and bricks being thrown at cars.