December 18 2014 Latest news:
Andrew Fitchett, Reporter
Saturday, January 4, 2014
A mother whose seven-year-old son went missing for more than seven hours has described how she feared she would never see him again.
Michelle Carroll, 26, and Scott Holder, 25, of Elm Road, Thetford, endured every parent’s nightmare when their son, Liam Holder, went missing on Thursday afternoon after going to shops with friends and his sister.
His sister, Kacie, returned home, but Liam was last seen at 2pm. When the Diamond Academy pupil did not come back before dark, Ms Carroll contacted the police, sparking a panicked search.
Neighbours and family scoured the surrounding area to find him, with the police helicopter called into action as part of the hunt.
Ms Carroll said they were used to Liam playing out with friends, but that he normally checked in with them regularly.
“We weren’t too worried to begin with because it was daylight and normally he’s close by.
“But as time went by I could just feel in my gut that something was up because it wasn’t like him,” she said.
Ms Carroll called 999 at around 5pm, with officers quickly sending out an appeal for help which cascaded through social media sites and sparked neighbours into action.
But despite the frantic search, there was still no sign of Liam for another four and a half hours.
Ms Carroll, who stayed at home in case Liam returned, said she felt “helpless”.
“When you are in that situation, you think of every scenario.
“People’s reaction was absolutely amazing - we couldn’t believe the amount that came out to help us.
“But as it went on I thought he was gone and I would never see him again,” she said.
While the frantic search continued, Liam was wandering through Thetford with a group of friends, visiting Castle Park and the Abbey Estate.
He said the group had spotted the police helicopter flying overhead but had no idea it was looking for him.
He was eventually found on the Abbey Estate at around 9pm - seven hours after last being seen - by a resident who had seen the appeal for help and delivered him to the police.
His mother said seeing him was a great relief.
“I was so emotional by that point and couldn’t stop crying. I just gave him a huge hug,”
“He won’t be getting out of my sight for a few days though, that’s for sure,” she said.