Missing boy found asleep in bedroom

By Patrick LowmanA COUPLE have told of their ordeal after they feared their young son had been abducted – and their relief after discovering him curled up asleep under his bed.

By Patrick Lowman

A COUPLE have told of their ordeal after they feared their young son had been abducted – and their relief after discovering him curled up asleep under his bed.

A huge police hunt was launched after 10-year-old Christopher Offord failed to return home, with dog handlers and the force helicopter deployed in the search for the missing youngster.

But the eight-hour operation was brought to an end when, to his parents' relief, Christopher was


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found asleep behind a box under his bed.

Katie Offord, 32, became concerned when her son failed to return to their home in Raile Walk, Long Melford, at about 6.30pm on Saturday after going out with friends.

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Fearing the worst after all Christopher's friends said he had returned home, Miss Offord and her partner, Lee Goddard, 27, were devastated when they later discovered the trainers the youngster had been wearing on the floor of their home and his bicycle at a friend's house.

They called the police, fearing the youngster had been abducted, and searched the entire house with officers.

As concerns grew about Christopher's whereabouts, Suffolk police launched a full-scale hunt for the missing boy. The force helicopter was drafted in, equipped with a thermal imaging camera, and officers with dogs were deployed.

Volunteers from the Lowland Search and Rescue Team joined friends, relatives and neighbours and spent hours searching nearby fields, river walks and the surrounding area for Christopher.

At about 2am yesterday officers decided to do another check of the home and to their amazement they found Christopher fast asleep behind a large box under his bed.

Speaking after recovering from their ordeal, the couple told of their relief after finding the youngster safe and sound.

Mr Goddard, who is Christopher's stepfather, said: "At one time we really did fear the worst. We were all in tears because we thought he had been abducted and even began to think he may be dead.

"He has come home 10 or 20 minutes late before, but has never stayed out after dark because we are very strict about that. We were so worried because it would have been out of character for Christopher to go off without telling us."

Miss Offord added: "It was such a relief when we found him under the bed. The officer just pulled the box back and there he was curled-up fast asleep. I just couldn't believe it and I started crying out of relief.

"I must admit I was slightly embarrassed. We had already looked under the bed and so did the police officer, but we just couldn't see him behind the box and I can't believe he managed to crawl into such a small space and fall asleep."

The couple said they were still mystified as to why the youngster decided to go to sleep under the bed as he had never done it before.

Miss Offord said: "He must have come in and gone straight up to his room and got under his bed before falling asleep. Although we are relieved, we will be talking to Christopher about the seriousness of what happened."

The couple also praised the police and the volunteers and neighbours who helped them in the search for their son.

Mr Goddard said: "The police were fantastic and we are so grateful with the way the neighbours pulled together to help us. We have only lived here a year and don't know anybody that well and we are really touched by the support they gave us."

When Christopher was asked about his ordeal, he said: "I think it is a bit funny, it was fine sleeping under the bed, it was quite comfortable."

A spokesman for Suffolk police said: "We are just pleased he was found safe and well and that everybody is happy with the outcome."

patrick.lowman@eadt.co.uk

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