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'Death mother' was a doting parent

Friends of a woman being questioned by police on suspicion of murdering her two-year-old son have described her as a "doting" mother.

The 39-year-old, named locally as Melanie Ruddell, was arrested when she walked into a County Durham police station carrying her "unresponsive" son Christy.

The boy, also named by neighbours, was taken by ambulance from Peterlee police station, County Durham, to Sunderland Royal Hospital, where he was confirmed dead shortly after arrival.

His mother was arrested due to injuries found on his body.

Two police community support officers stood on duty outside Mrs Ruddell's home in the village of Castle Eden, County Durham.

The curtains of the red brick Victorian end terrace had been drawn.

Neighbours of Mrs Ruddell, who is understood to have split from her husband Alan a few months ago after three years of marriage, spoke of a loving mother.

A former neighbour, who lives in the centre of the village, said Mrs Ruddell and her husband had moved to the other end of Castle Eden about two years ago.

He said: "After she moved I really didn't see much of her other than when I saw her walking Christy around.

"She was vivacious. She enjoyed life."

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