MURDER squad detectives have arrested the parents of a boy who died days before his second birthday.

Gemma Fennelly, 23, and her 33-year-old partner, Mark Bate, were arrested early yesterday in Hartlepool, following the death of Mitchell Allan Bate.

The toddler, who would have been two in October, was found unconscious at his home in Rodney Street by his mother, early on Friday, September 16.

An ambulance was called but he died later that day at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

The couple were last night helping police with the investigation at Hartlepool police station.

Detective Chief Inspector Gordon Lang said: "A man and woman have been arrested on suspicion of the murder of a toddler.

"The arrests of a 23-year-old woman and a man, aged 33, follow the results of detailed forensic tests."

Mitchell was found unconscious and not breathing at 6.40am. He died later the same day.

A post-mortem examination proved inconclusive and detectives ordered more detailed tests.

At the time, officers said they had not ruled out the possibility he may have taken a fatal drugs overdose, as it was understood there may have been methadone in the terraced property.

An inquest into the youngster's death was opened by Hartlepool Coroner Malcolm Donnelly on Tuesday, September 27.

The brief hearing was then adjourned for the outcome of forensic tests, which prompted yesterday's arrests.