Drowned Hampshire boy 'not seen in murky garden pond'
The parents of a three-year-old boy who drowned in their garden pond failed to spot him at the bottom of the murky water, an inquest has heard.
Rodney Lawrence went missing at his home in Union Lane, Hampshire, Kingsclere, on 9 May.
His parents said they started a search but failed to see him in the fenced-off pond. He was later found by a friend.
Rodney was "fascinated" by the fish and had earlier asked to feed them. An accidental death verdict was recorded.
His mother Marie Lawrence said the family had spent the Sunday together including a visit to the circus.
She said it was at about 1700 BST that she realised Rodney was missing.
The hearing heard that the first place the couple looked was the 5ft (1.6m) deep garden pond but they did not see him lying at the bottom.
She said: "I realised Rodney wasn't there, the first place I looked was the fish pond.
"I imagined you would see someone on the top if they had fallen in, not underneath."
It was friend Claire Hearne who found Rodney in the pond which was surrounded by a fence and gate.
Ms Hearne said: "I went up to the gate, went in and stood on the edge and looked right down and saw Rodney at the bottom, it was all dark.
"I jumped in, I remember grabbing his top and pulling him up and putting him on the decking."
The inquest heard that a police officer took over the resuscitation before an air ambulance took Rodney to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Mrs Lawrence said her son was fascinated by the fish but was not allowed next to the pond alone.
The hearing heard how he had asked to feed the fish shortly before he disappeared but was told not to by his father because they had already been fed.
Mrs Lawrence said: "He used to love the fish, he used to always go over, get a cup of food and pour it in.
"He would go and stroke them. He was very aware of not leaning in too far and things like that which is why we find it strange he ended up in there."
Coroner Andrew Bradley said a post-mortem examination confirmed the cause of death was drowning.
He said: "One of my hobby horses is that ponds should be fenced - it was, you were there, it was all immediate, how much safer could it be?"