A man has been arrested after a seven-year-old boy was killed by a hit-and-run driver in horror hit-and-run as he played with his friends in his beloved Cristiano Ronaldo kit.
Kent Police have confirmed a 49-year-old man from the Dymchurch area was arrested and taken into custody at 5.15pm – nearly a full day after the fatal collision at 5.35pm on Wednesday.
William Brown was collecting his ball and was knocked down by a car on Sandgate Esplanade in Folkestone, Kent last night.
The force says that two vehicles were involved in the collision – with one leaving the tragic scene before emergency services could arrive.
By the time ambulance crews and police were there little William had died.
Speaking from her seafront home in Sandgate today William’s mother, Laura Brown, 41, revealed she brought him a toy octopus for Christmas, which she had already wrapped and will now put in his coffin.
After breaking down in tears she begged the driver of the vehicle to come forward so that she and William’s father, William Brown Senior, 34, could ‘be at peace and bury Will knowing we got justice for him’.
William Brown was playing with friends in his beloved Cristiano Ronaldo kit when he went to collect his ball and was knocked down by a car on Sandgate Esplanade in Folkestone, Kent last night
William was playing with friends while his mother made him his dinner when he was mowed down
Flowers and messages left at the scene in Sandgate, near Folkestone, where little William was killed
She said: ‘William was the sweetest, kindest and funniest boy. He was an amazing friend to his friends. He loved animals, history facts, nature and digging. He loved fossils and dinosaurs. Anything weird and wonderful.
‘He loved curiosities and oddities. He loved taxidermy. He had shark’s teeth and spiders, snake skins. 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 was just always in Will’s world. He was too kind for this world.
‘If there was a question to ask he had to ask it. He needed to know the answers to everything.
‘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.’
Recalling the moment her son was hit by the unidentified vehicle, beauty therapist Laura said: ‘Last night he was playing football out in the garden.
‘He started going upstairs to put on his kit, but it was short-sleeved top and bottom. I told him he had to put something underneath so he did.
Mr Brown held up his son’s green football shirt as he filmed the appeal in the young boy’s bedroom. Behind him were teddy bears and a neon sign bearing William’s name
The youngster was left ‘dying in the middle of the road’ in Folkestone, Kent
‘He was playing with two friends in the front garden. They’ve played in that garden for years since he was born. He’s never once gone over the wall.
‘And then last night I was making dinner downstairs. I’d made a bolognese sauce with some pasta.
‘They’d just come in because Will had tackled his friend. His friend came in and said “Will’s just tackled me”. We said “play nicely everyone, dinner will be ready in a minute.”
‘And then I went back to stir the pasta and his friend came in and said “Will’s been hit by a car”. He’d jumped over the wall. It’s so strange because he’d never done that before.
‘Maybe he was excited by the game and just got totally carried away – I don’t know. But he’s never done it before – none of those boys have.
‘We let them play in the garden because we thought it was safe. The garden should be safe. I literally ran down there and Will was laying in the middle of the road.
‘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, the red car, did stop.
‘The police are desperately looking for the person who did it. I’m just sad that they left him like that.
William’s father has urged the hit-and-run driver to contact police so the family ‘can work out what happened to our son’. The little boy is pictured in an appeal made by his loved ones
Emergency services at the scene of the hit-and-run on Sandgate Esplanade in Folkestone
‘I think he was still alive – the paramedics were working on him for ages. We waited 45 minutes before they pronounced him dead. I just hope it was quick.
‘They put a sheet around us and I just laid down on the floor with him.’
Speaking directly to the driver of the unidentified vehicle, Laura said: ‘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.
‘Somebody must know something. I’m begging people to come forward so we can lay Will to rest.
‘We’re just so broken. I’m just praying for a miracle.’
Laura said William’s younger sister Pearl, aged six, is struggling to come to terms with his death.
She added: ‘He’s got a little sister who’s six who just can’t understand it. We were just about to have dinner and her dad told her ‘Will’s dead’.
‘She said “I don’t understand it, he’s playing football in the garden.” She’s devastated.
‘They were like twins. They were only 13 months apart. Will adored Pearl from the day she was born.’
William Snr, 34, who is separated from Laura, added: ‘We just want closure. We’re not on a witch-hunt to find this man. We just want to know what happened to our son.
‘We want the person who did this to come forward on the basis that if he comes forward now it will be a lot more peaceful for all parties – rather than if he gets squeezed out.
‘Because he is going to get found out. You don’t get away with things like this.
‘Please just come forward.’
Paying tribute to William – who was in year 3 at nearby St Eanswythes Primary School – William Snr, who owns a construction company, said: ‘Will was a really forgiving boy. He was accepting and loving and patient and kind.
‘I honestly think if he was here today, he would probably say “I was just going to get the football dad, I just made a mistake.”
‘Will has left behind a huge network of friends, school friends, a huge family that loves him. All united because we love him.
‘I hope he’s up there reading about how much we all love him.’
Fighting back tears William Snr, also made a video appeal from his little boy’s bedroom, urging the driver to contact police so the family ‘can work out what happened to our son’.
‘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,’ he said. ‘If it’s you, you’re feeling guilty, but we really need to know so we can lay our son in peace and know what happened to him.’
William Snr held up his son’s green football shirt as he filmed the appeal in the young boy’s bedroom. Behind him were teddy bears and a neon sign bearing William’s name.
‘People of Folkestone and Hythe, could you please help us,’ he said. ‘At 5.35pm last night, Wednesday, November 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.’
The grieving father then directly addressed the driver. He said: ‘Please reach out to Kent Police so we can work out what happened to our son.’
Laura, step-mother Vicky Phillips, and Pearl, were ‘the best of friends’ to William.
Emergency services rushed to Sandgate Esplanade near the junction with Prospect Road after William was knocked down last night, but the boy died at the scene despite efforts to save him.
Police say 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.
The high street was closed to allow police to carry out accident investigation work before reopening at around 7am today.
This is a breaking news story. More to follow.