‘Missing’ Sussex boy, 3, who sparked 2-hour manhunt, found hiding behind the sofa eating ice cream

People in a Sussex town spent hours searching for a ‘missing’ boy – despite him being found hours earlier eating ice cream behind the sofa.

Leah Boyle, 31, said she was mowing the grass when her son, three-year-old Sonny, came out the house to ask for a Paw Patrol ice cream around 4.30pm yesterday, June 16.

Having already enjoyed one lolly, midwife Leah told Sonny he couldn’t have a second ice cream but when she went to check on him inside just a few moments later the young lad had disappeared.

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Leah, who lives in Bethune Road, Horsham, said: “I couldn’t find him. He’s quite curious. He’s got no sense of stranger danger. He’s a very laid back child.”

Leah Boyle thought her three-year-old son Sonny was missing, only to discover him hiding behind the sofa eating ice cream.

The mum said she began calling for her young boy and took to the streets to look for him when she got no answer – fearing he had slipped past her car and gone to play with his dad and sister in the park.

She added: “That’s when I really panicked. I’m calling him really loudly.

“I saw a man I said have you seen a little boy? He’s naked – you can’t miss him.”

After searching the local area Leah returned to her home just a few minutes later to alert Sonny’s dad only to spot the young lad in the living room.

Sonny, pictured by mum Leah after his adventure

She said: “Out of the corner of my eye I [saw] he was curled up with an ice cream in his hand.”

The relieved mum was able to find the man who was helping to look for Sonny and let him know her son was safe – but unbeknownst to her news of Sonny’s supposed disappearance had spread.

Someone had posted a report Sonny was missing in a local Facebook group – sparking hundreds of comments as concerned residents took to the streets to search for the lad.

When Leah first saw the post she feared a second child may be missing but after reading the comments it dawned on her that the description matched her youngster.

And more than two hours after Sonny was found behind the sofa the embarrassed mum posted in the group, reassuring residents her lad was safe.

She said: “It turned out it was my Sonny.

“Thank you to everyone for taking such good care and looking for him, even though I had no idea and he was safe and well. What a great community we live in!”

But the young family’s adventures hadn’t finished for the day as concerned police officers visited their house after Sonny’s ‘disappearance’ was reported to them.

Leah added: “It just spread like wildfire. Then the police turned up. You couldn’t write it! I thought ‘oh god – I’m that mother’.

“They said we have had residents concerned. The police weren’t informed [of Sonny’s disappearance].

“I said he wasn’t missing. I just didn’t look well enough. They gave him a bit of a talking to. He was very excited by it.

“It’s a great story for when he turns 18.”