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Boy (4) dies hiding inside tumble dryer

A young boy has died after climbing into a tumble dryer in a game of hide-and-seek that went tragically wrong.

Sonny Shepherd (4) was trapped in the machine for an hour while his family and a police helicopter searched nearby fields, thinking he’d strayed from the house.

When the search moved into the house, a police officer discovered the little boy in the machine’s drum and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

It is still unclear whether he had suffocated in the tumble dryer or died as the machine began its cycle.

It is thought that he managed to climb into the machine and somehow close the door behind him.

Sonny’s mother Anne, who is in her mid-40s, is being comforted by neighbours and is too distraught to speak about what had happened.

Neighbours on the street in rural Ashbourne, Derbyshire, paid tribute to “the sweet lad” as police tried to piece together how the “bizarre and tragic accident” had happened.

One neighbour, who asked not be named, said that Sonny loved playing hide-and-seek and was “always trying to give his older brothers and sisters a surprise”.

He had finished nursery last week and it was the first day of his summer holidays, neighbours said.

It is understood his mother had gone shopping in Ashbourne town centre some time after 10am and had left Sonny's elder half-sister and half-brothers to look after him.

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