Inquest into deaths of grandmother and grandson: ‘We will never exactly know what happened that day’

Laurence Mills and Dawn Mullany both died at Holywell Lake in February.

Laurence Mills and Dawn Mullany both died at Holywell Lake in February.

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An inquest into the death of a grandmother and grandson who were found dead in a lake near Stamford in February has returned a narrative verdict explaining that they drowned.

Dawn Mullany, 71, from Castle Bytham and Laurence Mullany-Mills, six, from Ketton, Rutland, were found dead in Holywell Lake, near Castle Bytham.

Post moretm examinations found the cause of death to be drowning. The coroner concluded that enquiries had found no suspicious circumstances, but that the exact circumstances could not be established.

The inquest heard that Lincolnshire Police were called at around 9.20pm on Thursday February 16 by Laurence’s mother, who was concerned for the welfare of Laurence and Mrs Mullany.

Laurence had gone to stay with his grandmother and had been due back at Ketton some time earlier. Officers checked Mrs Mullany’s house in Castle Bytham and it was established that no one was there.

A search was launched, with the help of an RAF helicopter.

At 10pm that evening Mrs Mullany’s car was found close to Holywell Lake. Mrs Mullany’s body was found in the water a short time later.

Just before 4am the following morning (February 17), Laurence’s body was also found in the water. Police enquiries and a post-mortem were carried out and there were found to be no suspicious circumstances.

DCI David Wood said that evidence suggested Mrs Mullany and Laurence had gone to the lake to feed the ducks.

DCI Wood said: “Our investigations have definitively found that no third party contributed to the death of Mrs Mullany and Laurence, but we are unable to say exactly why or how they both ended up in the water.”

He added: “This was an awful, tragic accident and our thoughts are with the family. We hope that the conclusion of the inquest process enables them, in some sense, to move forward.

“I would like to thank the officers who conducted the searches and enquiries in this case. They acted extremely professionally in very difficult circumstances.

“Although we do not know how or why Mrs Mullany and Laurence came to be in the lake, this case clearly demonstrates the dangers of such bodies of water, particularly in the winter months when the water temperature is so low. We would urge anyone with young children to consider these risks.”

A statement was released by the family through Lincolnshire Police: “We have known for some time what the inquest would and would not be able to tell us.

“We will never exactly know what happened that day, other than a tragic accident that’s taken away two wonderful people and beloved pillars of our family.

“Now we have to continue with the long and difficult journey that is rebuilding our lives with the support of our family and friends and the loving memory of our years spent with Dawn and Laurie.”