Boy, 3, back home after 16-mile bus trip

AN enterprising three-year-old boy is safely back in the arms of his family after taking a 16-mile bus trip on his own.Melinda and Andy Smith yesterday thanked the people of Braintree after their frantic search for their son ended happily in a neighbouring town.

AN enterprising three-year-old boy is safely back in the arms of his family after taking a 16-mile bus trip on his own.

Melinda and Andy Smith yesterday thanked the people of Braintree after their frantic search for their son ended happily in a neighbouring town.

Leon Smith was getting bored while visiting the library at Braintree with his family on Thursday and decided to go on an adventure of his own.

He boarded a bus and took the 16-mile trip to Colchester, where he was discovered by an elderly couple, who called the police.


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His disappearance, just after 2pm, gave Mrs Smith, 34, of Plains Field, Braintree, a major fright.

“I was just very panicky and worried that someone could have taken him and put him in their car. I went numb with fear,” she said.

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Leon had been in the library with his mother and sister Jasmine, seven, when he made his dash for the exit.

“I just lost sight of him for a few seconds," said Mrs Smith.

“He shot out of the library and was gone, down the steps and that was it; he was on the bus and an adventure. He hadn't even got any shoes on.

“They had a helicopter searching and there must have been more than 50 people looking in shops.

“There were more than 30 officers looking for him.

“About an hour later the police told me that a little boy matching his description had been found at Colchester bus station.

“He was showing interest in the diggers over the road, so I thought he might have gone to look at them. But I did have a feeling that he was on a bus.

“Apparently there were women getting on the bus and everyone just assumed he was with one of them.

“An elderly couple found him at Colchester bus station after he had got off.

“I just want to say thank you to Braintree police and to the people of Braintree. Some of the shopkeepers even stopped their businesses to help look for him.

“He's adventurous and sporty and he definitely has no fear of people. I'm really lucky to have him back.

“Last night I just lay in bed with him in my arms for hours. I'm not a bad mum, and I do look after my children.”

Mr Smith, 32, a gas engineer, said he had received a phone call from the police to say his wife was distraught and that his son had run off.

He said: “My wife doesn't drive, so they take the bus very often. I am surprised that the driver didn't notice.

“He's only three years old, but he's determined to do his own thing. He has wandered off before and my wife was very stressed out and worried that he had been taken.”

An Essex Police spokeswoman said the force adopted “standard procedure” when officers were told that a small child was missing.

She said: “We sent up a helicopter and used everyone we could to search the area around the library on the basis that he couldn't have gone far.

“His mum did mention the possibility that he might have got on the bus because he goes on buses a lot.

“And then we got the call to say he had been found.”

Mrs Smith added: “The police took me to Colchester to pick him up. They'd taken him to a supermarket in a police car with the lights flashing - which he liked.

“When I picked him up he wasn't bothered at all. Of course I was a wreck.

“We can't thank the police and everyone who helped the search enough. And the people who found him. It just goes to show there are a lot of nice people in the world.”

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