Sunday 23 September 2018

Missing boy (9) was found safe and well 'after online tip-off from China'

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Brett Campbell

A missing Lurgan boy was found safe and well after a social media appeal received information from China.

Connor Creaney went missing from the Shankill estate at around 3pm on Thursday after telling his mum Shirley that he was going to play in a local park.

The nine-year-old's failure to return home sparked panic and a frantic overnight search was launched resulting in the police helicopter being deployed.

But there was a happy ending when the Carrick Primary School pupil was found safe and sound in a nearby friend's house yesterday morning.

It later emerged that police received a valuable tip-off from China after a social media appeal went viral.

The alert prompted a local resident who is currently visiting Asia to come forward with "vital information" concerning the boy's whereabouts.

The local person was also able to provide an address where they believed the boy could be found.

Chief Inspector Jon Burrows said the incident highlighted the "vital" role of social media in modern policing.

"Our local social media post for our missing nine-year-old in Lurgan reached over half-a-million people in a matter of hours," he wrote on Twitter.

"It was picked up by a local citizen on their smartphone who was in China, resulting in vital information."

Connor's family thanked the community for their amazing support.

"The people of Lurgan often get a bad rap but they certainly pulled through on this," Connor's aunt, Ursula Murray, said. "Everyone has been amazing.

"The family would like to thank everyone who supported us through this, and the police for their help in searching for Connor."

Ms Murray also explained that the "terrible experience" followed what had already been a distressing time for the whole family following the death of her brother - Connor's dad Terence - last year.

It is understood Connor was discovered at a property in the Mourneview area. His friend's parents have told police they were not aware the boy was in their home.

Sinn Fein MLA John O'Dowd commended the efforts of the "many people" who were involved in the search which ensured Connor was found.

The PSNI had previously asked people to "refrain from speculation".

Belfast Telegraph

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