VIDEO: Tributes paid to seven-year-old South Yorkshire boy Conley Thompson as body is found
Conley Thompson, from Underwood Avenue, Worsbrough, was playing in Locke Park in Barnsley with his friends when he vanished last night.
He is believed to have left the park at 8pm to return home but never arrived.
The youngster was reported missing a short time later.
Today, police officers have cordoned off Bank End Road, Worsbrough, following the discovery of a child’s body.
Conley’s family has been informed of the discovery.
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “Officers searching for missing seven-year-old Conley Thompson have this morning found the body of a child on a construction site on Bank End Road in the Worsbrough area of Barnsley.
“The body was found at approximately 8.30am.
“Formal identification of the body is yet to take place, however it is believed to be that of Conley.
“His family have been informed and they are being supported by specialist officers.”
Detective Inspector Victoria Short, leading the investigation, said: “We deployed our full resources with officers searching throughout the night to find Conley and we are deeply saddened by this tragic development.
“While it is early in the investigation, the death is being treated as unexplained and a post-mortem will take place in due course.
“Our thoughts remain with Conley’s family and friends at this very difficult time.”
A police van and a number of police vehicles and officers are at the construction site, including forensic experts in white suits.
A police car is parked outside Conley’s family home and earlier this morning the police helicopter was circling the area scouring the ground from above.
Residents in the area have expressed their shock and grief at the news as some started to lay flowers and teddies at the scene where the body was discovered.
Wayne Bolton went with his son, Finley, four, to pay his respects.
He said the first he heard was the helicopter being used to search for the boy on Sunday night.
Mr Bolton said: “We are not friends with the family, but it’s tragic what’s happened and it just makes you appreciate what you have.
“I can’t begin to imagine what that family are going through.
“It was such a tragic accident, hopefully, and we just want to show support for the family and to be fair the whole community has turned up.
“It’s shocked everyone and everyone is in bits and luckily, in an area like this, everyone comes together and we all help each other.”
James Attree and his partner Louise Hirst came with their daughters, school friends of Conley, to lay flowers at the scene.
James said: “I knew his mum and would always see them at the school gates. I know the family will be devastated.
“I just remember him as a really happy lad. He loved playing outside and having fun with his friends. He was a typical young boy running about and having water fights.
“His life was only just starting.”
One local mother, who did not want to be named, said: “It makes me really paranoid and nervous for my kids to play out. Anything could happen.”
Schoolboy Evan Dunning, seven, came with his mother Cheryl to lay flowers.
He said: “He’s a bit naughty. He loved football. I used to play football with him. I’m going to miss him.”
Cheryl added: “As a mum I’m really shocked. All the parents in the area are.
“It makes it worse because he was the same age as my son.”
One woman, who did not want to be named, said: “I don’t know the family but this is a close-knit area and word spreads like wildfire.
“I just can’t believe it, it’s so sad. I feel terrible for them. I heard screams and cries coming from the house which must be when they were told.
“People have been writing things on Facebook like ‘Rest In Peace’.
“Apparently he had been seen climbing around in the area near the church yard.
“I often see him playing about on the street.”
Another woman said: “I can’t imagine what the family must be going through. It’s just unbelievable.
“He was just a kid who liked playing out in the street.”
One man, who also did not want to be named, said: “It’s so sad. The whole community is in shock.”
Conley’s family were too devastated to speak this morning - while a woman,believed to be his mother, left the street in a car.
The construction site in which the child’s body was found sported a security Guards UK sign on the fence.
The sign on the site, states: “WARNING THESE PREMISES ARE PROTECTED BY: Security Guards UK, 24 HOUR MANNED SECURITY AND CCTV.”
Peter Taylor, who said he was a manager at Security Guards UK, said: “Basically we finished there on July 16, we leave warnings signs up as an extra visual deterrent.
“When we were there we had reported the perimeter was not secure, there were children trying to come on to the site and were stopping them.
“We were pulled off immediately without any notice, we then reiterated the issues.”
Mr Taylor said the security firm was employed by a company called Piletec.
The company was Piletec Geotechnical Ltd based in Rotherham, who, their website states, offer specialist and innovative Soil Nailing, Ground Anchoring and Piling techniques with industry experience and expertise dating back over 40 years.
Managing director Mick Lopia confirmed they had employed Security Guards UK to protect their equipment and that the security firm would have finished working their around the July 16.
He said Piletec was employed by Erris Homes.
When news of Conley’s disappearance broke, Nichola Thorpe, headteacher of Worsbrough Bank End Primary School, wrote on Facebook: “Dear families, can you help?
“Conley is missing since last night and the police are looking for him. We pray that he is safe and has stayed with friends.
“Please share and spread the word to get him home safe and well.”
Anyone with information should contact South Yorkshire Police on 101 quoting incident number 1,148 of July 26.