British police were today granted more time to interview two boys over a savage attack which left one boy battling life-threatening injuries and another seriously wounded.
Officers were given permission by magistrates to continue questioning the children, aged 10 and 11, over the incident at Edlington, near Doncaster, South Yorkshire.
The most seriously injured boy, who is 11, was found semi-conscious at the bottom of a wooded ravine on Saturday afternoon.
He was airlifted to Sheffield Children’s Hospital, where his condition was said to have improved today from critical to stable.
He has been taken off a ventilator and moved to a high-dependency ward, but police said they were not expecting to be able to speak to him today.
His nine-year-old companion was found wandering along a street “dazed” and covered in blood, witnesses said.
Police were called at around 2.20pm on Saturday after the youngster was found in Auburn Road by a member of the public.
He was taken to Doncaster Royal Infirmary, where he had surgery on a severe cut to his arm, and is expected to undergo further surgery today or tomorrow.
Today, the younger boy’s parents were not at their home, which is a few streets away from where he was found.
Neighbours said the couple were at their son’s bedside.
One woman, who did not want to be named, said the boy’s parents were in a state of shock.
She said the two boys were always together.
“They both play football. They’re always out here. They’re always together,” she said.
She said the boy, who lived a few doors away, was a normal boy of his age.
“We’ve never had any trouble with him,” she said.
Another man said: “They’re just regular lads. They’re not brothers but they are like brothers.”
The younger boy’s mother is the elder boy’s sister, local people said.
Their mother died about 10 years ago and the elder boy lives a few streets away with his father and his partner.
People at that house said they could not talk this morning.
It is thought the two boys may have been attacked with a brick and slashed with a knife.
Downing Street said Gordon Brown regarded it as a “shocking” incident, but cautioned against drawing any wider conclusions about the state of society.
“In his view, the overwhelming majority are well-behaved and have good upbringings, and therefore
he would be cautious about reaching any general conclusion about what is a disturbing but singular event,” the Prime Minister’s spokesman said.
People living near the Brick Ponds area of Edlington, a former mining village, described how the younger boy was seen wandering along the street covered in blood.
Today, police continued to work in the ravine, with members of the public kept well back behind a cordon.
Mounted officers joined colleagues patrolling the streets.