Detectives investigating the drowning of a two-year-old boy in a nature reserve lake have released an image of a dogwalker who could be key to the tragic case.
Greyson Birch was hauled out of the water by firefighters after emergency services rushed to the secluded area and took him to hospital but tragically he died four days later.
An 18-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of neglect following the distressing incident at Swanwick Lake, near Fareham, Hants, on May 30, and remains on bail.
Today Hampshire Constabulary have released CCTV video footage of a dog walker detectives would like to identify as they continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding how Greyson came to be in the water.
The clip shows a person walking with a dog on a lead down Sopwith Way before turning in to a path in the trees towards Swanwick Lakes just before the NATS site.
NATS is the main air navigation provider in the UK and its Swanwick control centre – which is next to the lake – is one of two in the country.
A spokesperson for the force said: ‘We appreciate the quality is poor, but we are hoping that we can reach out to this person or anyone who knows them, as we are keen to speak to them and establish whether they saw Greyson that evening at the reserve.’
Greyson Birch, two, was hauled out of the water by firefighters at Swanwick Lake in Hampshire
Now police have released a picture from CCTV of a dogwalker they think could help them
This week detectives also released a photo of ‘bubbly’ Greyson, taken that day in the clothing he was wearing – a blue striped top, dark shorts, and white trainers.
Detective Inspector Matt Gillooly, who is leading the investigation, also revealed Greyson visited Lakeside Country Park in Eastleigh, Hants, shortly before visiting Swanwick Lake.
DI Gillooly said: ‘Our investigation is tracing all of the steps leading up to Greyson’s tragic death, and we are looking at places he may have visited prior to Swanwick Lakes.
‘We want to know if anyone at Lakeside Country Park saw him that afternoon and anyone he was with.
‘Please contact us if you did, as any detail around Greyson’s movements that day, no matter how insignificant it may seem to you, could prove crucial in determining the full picture of this case.
‘Were you there that afternoon? Do you recognise Greyson or his clothing from the photos we have released? Please contact us if you do.’
Greyson, from Southampton, Hants, was pulled from Swanwick Lake around 8.30pm on May 30 and died at Southampton General Hospital on June 3.
Police said they knew the picture quality was poor but were ‘hoping that we can reach out’
Police and a forensic officer at the scene on Monday, 31st May at Swanwick Lake in Hants
Following his death, Greyson’s heartbroken family released a photograph of the smiley blonde boy and paid tribute to him.
They said: ‘Greyson Birch, our much loved son, brother and cherished family member who has sadly been taken from us was a character that neither family, friends or other persons will not and cannot forget.
‘His bubbly personality that filled all our hearts with joy and happiness will linger in this world.
‘Greyson was our light and life that will still shine to us all through our thoughts and memories. Greyson would love to dance, sing, play, just everything!
‘To know that each time we hear Twinkle Twinkle or someone plays Baby Shark and he’s not there dancing and clapping his hands kills us to the bottom of our hearts.
‘The cheeky little smile that would grace our presence will remain in our family and friends’ hearts forever. I know he is now in a safe place watching over his sibling and all that came to be a part of his short but amazing life.
‘His memory will remain always and live through the smiles and joy of each individual who had the pleasure of meeting him.’
The 36 hectare site of Swanwick Lakes was once a clay pit for a local brick works.
It is described by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust as ‘a beautiful oasis for nature in an otherwise urban area. A mixture of woodland, lakes and meadows attracts a large array of species’.
The lakes and ponds around the site are said to be prime locations for dragonflies and damselflies, ‘including unusual species such as the downy emerald’.