A man has been arrested in connection with the death of a seven-year-old boy in a hit-and-run, hours after his father urged the driver to hand himself in, saying: “We already forgive you”.
Kent Police appealed for witnesses to help identify the vehicle involved, and on Thursday night said they had arrested a 49-year-old man from Dymchurch.
It came hours after the boy’s father, Will Brown Snr, made a video appeal from his “beautiful” boy’s bedroom on Thursday.
Fighting back tears, he said he forgave the driver but urged them to hand themselves in, adding: “If it’s you, you’re feeling guilty, but we really need to know so we can bury our son in peace and know what happened to him.”
Mr Brown held up his son’s green football shirt as he spoke. Behind him were teddy bears and a neon sign bearing William’s name.
Mr Brown said: “People of Folkestone and Hythe, could you please help us? At 5.35pm last night, Wednesday Dec 6, we lost our son who was hit in a hit-and-run trying to collect his football.
“Can you please help us? If you have any information at all, any inkling, or anything you saw when you drove past, or anything at all, please reach out to Kent Police so we can work out what happened to our son.”
“And if it was you that done it, William Jnr was a beautiful boy and he believed in forgiveness and love, and please, we already forgive you. If it’s you, you’re feeling guilty, but we really need to know so we can bury our son in peace and know what happened to him.”
William leaves behind his father, mother Laura, step-mother Vicky Phillips and a six-year-old sister, Pearl, with whom he was “the best of friends”.
Speaking later, Mr Brown, 34, said the family were “not on a witch hunt to find this man” adding: “We just want to know what happened to our son”.
Laura, 41, paid tribute to her son on Thursday. She said: “William was the sweetest, kindest and funniest boy. He was a very unusual boy. For Christmas he wanted an octopus, so I got him a taxidermy one. He didn’t get to see it, it’s still wrapped. I’m going to put it in his coffin.
“He loved football. He supported Manchester United like his dad. But his favourite player of all time was Ronaldo. He died in his Ronaldo kit.”
Ms Brown, a beauty therapist, said her stepson had been playing football in the garden shortly before he was killed when he jumped over the back wall, possibly to collect the ball. She said moments later his friend came inside the house and told her: “Will’s been hit by a car”.
She added: “Whoever did this hit Will outside our house and left him in the middle of the road, and then another vehicle hit him. That second car did stop. To the person that did this, please please come forward so we can be at peace and bury Will knowing we got justice for him.”
Police and ambulance crews attended but, despite efforts to save his life, William died at the scene. Police said the collision involved two vehicles, an unidentified car or van and a red Citroen car. The unidentified vehicle left the scene in the direction of Hythe, before the arrival of emergency services.
Residents said they were left traumatised by what happened. One said: “We’re really shaken up by what we saw. We’ve hardly slept.
“It’s becoming more dangerous crossing that road, and there are increasing numbers of people who need to cross it.”
Another, who witnessed the aftermath of the crash, said: “The screams were so terrible. I felt so sad and couldn’t really look....there were many people trying to help but it was obvious to me nothing more could be done for the child.”