A TODDLER drowned in the two minutes his father's back was turned.

In those tragic moments, 18- month-old Robbie Lambert dropped his favourite toy bucket in the garden pond and decided to recover it himself - with fatal results.

At an inquest yesterday, parents Robert and Lesley Lambert relived the horror of how a hot summer's afternoon turned into chilling nightmare.

Mr Lambert found his son floating face down in the fish pond, in the back garden of the family's home in Guisborough Road, Thornaby, Teesside.

Lying Robbie out on the kitchen floor, the trained first-aider frantically tried mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on his tiny son.

Arriving with the ambulance, paramedic Mark Lakinski continued the desperate efforts to revive the child.

A team of doctors, led by accident and emergency consultant David Emerton took over from him at North Tees University Hospital, Stockton, where Robbie was later pronounced dead.

Asked by Tees Coroner Michael Sheffield if he could account for how Robbie might have come to fall in the pond, which is surrounded by a low wall, Mr Lambert said: "His little bucket was in the pond. What I think is he was trying to get it himself. Usually, he comes to get me.''

Robbie had been in the back garden with his father, who was working in a shed, while Mrs Roberts was in the house with her elder son, Joshua. A distraught Mrs Lambert said: "He (Robbie) kept coming in and out all the time.''

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Sheffield said: "It is desperately sad that Robert Matthew Lambert should lose his life in this way. It's not always possible to anticipate the actions of young children, and in particular very young children.

"As his father put it, when he wanted help he would normally come and ask. On this occasion he did not do so.''