Pair held after baby is found dead

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The Independent Online

A mother and her boyfriend have been arrested on suspicion of murder after her 21-month-old baby son was found dead at their home.

The woman, named locally as Collette Harris, 29, and the 24-year-old man were arrested after her son, Bobby, was found dead at the home in Bexleyheath, south-east London, on Monday 29 December.

The following day a post-mortem examination at Great Ormond Street Hospital revealed that the child had died from "multiple injuries". The couple were arrested again on New Year's Eve and bailed until February.

Yesterday, while police conducted door-to-door enquiries, neighbours spoke of their shock at the child's death as they laid flowers outside the house where he had lived. In the front garden sat a half-opened Christmas present. Alongside the flowers was a teddy bear with a card that read: "To Bobby, I will miss you so much and you always gave me a big cuddle when I came round to see you. Love from Georgie."

Rose Young, 48, also left a teddy and flowers with a card that read: "The street is shaken by this. Everyone has little baby Bobby in their prayers."

One neighbour, who didn't want to be named, said the child had suffered a broken leg three weeks ago but other neighbours did not recall that.

Claire Dobson, 29, said: "The little baby was a lovely cheerful thing. Every time I saw him he was always smiling. She didn't treat them badly in any way. They were never hurt or injured as far as I can remember and I was probably closest to them in the street. It is a very serious, tragic event, but at the moment I just can't believe she had anything to do with it."

Describing Collette as "very private and secretive", another neighbour said: "She moved here only a few months ago but she doesn't really socialise with any of the neighbours and she didn't let anyone into her house."

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "The death is being investigated by the child abuse investigation command major investigation team based at East Ham. It is being treated as murder."

A spokesman for Bexley Council said the council was made aware of the child's death on Tuesday but added that he was not the subject of a child protection plan – what was formerly the "at-risk register".