A toddler drowned in a disused sheep dip at his parents' farm just minutes after going outside to play, an inquest has been told.

Sam Bradbury, aged two, had wondered into the yard with his Jack Russell puppy Lucy while his mother Jennifer was busy working in the kitchen.

He was just 500 yards from the farmhouse where the family lived when he fell over a fence and into the disused sheep dip. Mrs Bradbury discovered he was missing and started a frantic search for him, the hearing was told.

A neighbour called 999 and police and friends rushed to the site at Onecote, Staffordshire, to help look for Sam.

Mrs Bradbury's father, Brian Warrington, who runs a nearby farm, joined the hunt

and went to the sheep dip. He spotted what he thought was a red rag in one corner but on closer inspection found it was his grandson's body clothed in a red T-shirt.

The tragedy happened on October 13 last year.

Mr Warrington told Stoke-on-Trent and North Stafford-shire Coroners Court: "I went over to look at the sheep dip and I saw the water had been

disturbed in the left hand corner. When I got a bit closer, I saw that there was something red in the water and I thought it was a red rag.

"I bent down and got hold of the red rag and then I realised it was Sam.

"I pulled him out. I knew it was no use.

"I've had enough experience of life to know that."

The family had lived at Waterhouse Farm for more than two years. The Bradburys moved there when Sam was just a few months old.

The sheep dip had not been used for eight years.

It was usually covered over, but the cover was not in place on the day of the accident, the inquest heard.

Mrs Bradbury, said: "Sam was a normal, healthy little boy and would help in his own little way with things around the farm.

"We bought him toy tractors to play with and we would put him on the quad bike when the engine was switched off.

"He loved to be outside. "Sam was very active and was good at climbing but he was always safe and had a good sense of balance."

Coroner Ian Smith recorded a verdict of accidental death.

He said: "It was an obvious accident in the truest sense of the word. This is a tragedy for everybody remotely connected with Sam.

"I can't begin to imagine how the family are dealing with this and how they will come to terms with it over the next few years."

The Bradburys have moved out of the farm following their son's death.