RESIDENTS are in shock today after the police launched a murder style investigation into the death of a baby in their village.
Detectives are probing the possible murder of a 13-month-old boy after being alerted by worried hospital staff.
The toddler was unconscious when he was taken to the University Hospital of North Durham on Saturday at around 5.30pm. Despite efforts to save him, he died.
Durham Constabulary were called in to investigate the circumstances surrounding his death. They say they are treating the death as “unexplained”.
Officers have arrested a 31-year-old man and questioned him on suspicion of murder before releasing him on bail. Detectives, led by Det Chief Insp Steve Chapman, are carrying out further inquiries.
A post-mortem has taken place but a pathologist could not pinpoint the exact cause of death. Now more tests are being carried out as the probe continues.
The arrested man is believed to be the partner of baby’s mother. Neighbours said the couple moved into the rented house in Owen Terrace in the former mining village of Tantobie, near Stanley, only weeks ago. The death has shocked neighbours in the quiet village.
Mary Roughton, 62, of nearby Bailey Street, said: “No one knows what happened. The police went knocking on people’s doors on Sunday in their street. I have a friend who lives there and she says the couple moved in about three weeks ago with the baby.
“This village is very quiet and everyone is talking about it. We didn’t know if the baby was found dead in the house or not, but now we know the baby was taken to hospital where he died.”
Mrs Roughton’s husband, Philip, 61, said: “It is a mystery about what has gone on. The police have been parked at the end of their street for three or four days and have been asking residents questions.
“It’s a real shock to everyone.”
Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, added: “I’ve got a daughter 11-months-old and I couldn’t imagine having something like that happen to her. It must be terrible.
“They have just recently moved in and have kept themselves to themselves. No one knows anything about them.”
The couple’s next door neighbour said: “They haven’t been living there that long. He has been arrested and questioned but let go. They seemed nice enough, but I think they have been through enough now.”
Yesterday the end of terrace house had its blinds closed and no one was at home.
A Durham Constabulary spokesman said: “On Saturday evening, police were alerted by staff at the University Hospital of North Durham that a 13-month-old baby boy from Stanley had been brought into the hospital in an unconscious state and died a short time later.
“A post-mortem was carried out, but at this stage the child’s death remains unexplained and further tests are being carried out.
“A 31-year-old man was arrested at the weekend in relation to the death. He was interviewed and has been bailed pending further inquiries.”
A spokesman for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, that runs the University Hospital of North Durham, said the trust could not comment on the incident.