A DISTRAUGHT mother has spoken of her horror after her five-year-old son managed to escape and was found at the side of a busy Bolton road.

Police found the little boy barefoot off Crompton Way, close to the Astley Bridge police station, on Sunday at 4.15pm.

A door-to-door search followed as officers tried to find the child's mother and it was shortly after 5.30pm when the frantic mum came running out of her home.

The mother-of-three explained that her son, who was dressed in his pyjamas when she last saw him. had said that he was going to bed around 4pm.

She said: "I was trying to settle my baby who is three months old and he said he was tired and so wanted to go to bed.

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"He had put his television on in his room and put his teddies in his bed to make it look like he was in there so I had absolutely no idea that he wasn't there when I walked past."

As officers searched the Hall i' th’ Wood estate to try to reunite the pair, the mother was unaware of what was unfolding outside.

She explained: "I noticed that I had about 30 missed calls on my phone and it was my friend checking that my son was in the house because there were a lot of police on the estate and he has tried to escape before.

"I went up to his room and couldn't believe that he wasn't there. I felt so anxious. I was panicking, but I was trying my hardest not to have a panic attack because I knew I had to get out there and find him.

"I ran straight out of the house after giving my baby to a friend and was just about to call 999 to report him missing when I saw him with the police officer."

The mother thinks that her son had managed to go into her room and get the back door keys from under her mattress before letting himself out of the back door.

He had also changed out of his pyjamas into a blue jumper and jeans.

The little boy was safe and well and had been looked after by a local officer.

The mother added: "I was so glad that he was safe, but I was still so stressed when I saw him. I'm so grateful that he was found by the police officers otherwise it could have been much worse.

"I'm not sure why he wanted to get out as he won't tell me. But he can't deal with loud noises and his sister was crying so it is possible that he thought he would go and get help."

Despite not reporting him missing, the mother said her description would not have matched that given by police as they thought he was one or two years old and he was wearing different clothes than she would have reported.

The story was reported by The Bolton News on Sunday and the mother was left distraught by comments from other readers.

She said: "It's really hard bringing up three children on your own and I know that's not an excuse.

"Bad things do happen but you never think that they will happen to you. I have been so upset reading what people have been saying about me being a bad mother. I was up all night crying."

The mother said that she will be changing the hiding place for her keys to make it harder for the little boy to escape in future.

She added: "He might be five but he's got developmental and behavioural problems and he needs help.

"I'm hoping now that he can gets the help that he needs. He has been fine since it happened laughing and playing."

A spokesman for the police said that their family and social services department were looking in to the circumstances as to how the incident happened.

Bolton Council did not comment on the issue.