Hit-and-run boy 'was bundle of joy'

A devastated family have appealed for help to find a hit-and-run driver who left their six-year-old "bundle of joy" to die.

Owen Wightman was hit by a car while out playing with his seven-year-old friend close to his home in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, on Saturday.

Speaking at the scene today, Detective Superintendent Paul Taylor said the family were "devastated".

Mr Taylor said he had seen Owen's parents, Joanne, 33, and Neil, 31, and they wanted him to read a statement.

In it, they said they had lost their "baby" and appealed for someone to come forward so they could "lay him to rest".

The statement went on: "He was perfect little man who was taken from us - just perfect in every way.

"He walked into a room and lit it up.

"He was our bundle of joy and our little ray of sunshine."

Mr Taylor said Mr and Mrs Wightman were "devastated, absolutely devastated".

The detective said: "When you see the picture of Owen you'll realise what a perfect little boy he was.

"Absolute angel. Blue eyes. Blond hair. And you can imagine what a blow this must be to his mum and dad and his family."

Mr Taylor, who is from West Yorkshire Police's homicide and major inquiry team, appealed for the driver to come forward.

"I would appeal for the driver to come forward and give his version of events prior to us receiving the information about what vehicle it was and prior to us knocking on his door," he said.

He said CCTV of the car taken from a passing bus is being analysed.

The officer said the man is thought to be white, in his early 20s and was the lone occupant of a light blue or grey hatchback.

The car was coming down a hill when it hit Owen on Fishpond Lane, in the Chapelthorpe area of Wakefield, at about 12.20pm on Saturday, he said.

The vehicle then took a left turn in Haveroid Lane - just 100 yards from the scene - where it immediately stopped and a witness saw the man get out to check his vehicle, he said.

Asked what the youngsters were doing just before the crash, Mr Taylor said: "Six- and seven-year-old little boys out playing on Saturday morning.

"Owen had indicated he was hungry and wanted to go back and have his dinner."

He confirmed they were crossing from a wooded area to the side of the road where they lived when the incident happened.

The boys' homes are about a five minute walk from the scene.

Mr Taylor said it was "very difficult" for the seven-year-old witness but he had given officers a statement.

Debris was found at the scene and was being forensically analysed, he said.

He said: "There was certainly damage to the car but, again, these are matters that I want the driver to tell us about."

Mr Taylor also appealed for anyone who may have seen someone trying to repair a car of this type in the past two days to come forward.

"It's a terrible thing that has happened. I appeal for the driver to come forward and give us his version of events," he said.

Landscape gardener Mr Wightman told the Yorkshire Post he found his son in the street.

He said: "I got there and I went over to Owen and I was holding him and talking to him.

"I was holding his hand and saying 'Owen, if you can hear me, please don't leave us. I love you so much, you're my little soldier'."

The family said Owen leaves two brothers - Jack, 12, and one-year-old Thomas.

Masses of floral tributes and teddy bears have been left at the scene.

One note said: "To mummy and daddy's little soldier, forever in our hearts, love u always."

One woman laying flowers, Zoe Beatson, said her son went to the same school as Owen.

She said: "He was a cheeky little chappie. Cheeky. Funny. Full of life.

"He was very polite. He played with anybody - a lovely-all-round boy."

Asked about the incident she said: "It's just disgusting. It's just a tragedy. It should never have happened."

Ms Beatson said people drove too fast on the road and she tried to avoid using it.

"Hopefully they'll slow down from now on," she added.