HEARTBROKEN parents Peter Rough and Sarah Thornhill today blasted the "sickening rumours" surrounding the death of their beloved four-year-old son.

"We did not kill Callum," said Peter, 27, from Chapelfields, York.

"It's hard enough to cope with his death as it is, without people spreading that around. People have been saying that he was poisoned and all sorts. How can they say that? We'd never do anything to hurt him."

The couple, who have another two-year-old son, JoJo, contacted the Evening Press in an effort to lay to rest the "hurtful" gossip, which they say a minority of people have spread in the community.

Peter said they were left devastated when neighbours informed them about what was being said.

Doctors remain baffled as to how Callum died, but police have confirmed they were not currently treating his death as suspicious.

A spokeswoman for the York coroner's office confirmed it still had no cause of death after the results of a post-mortem proved inconclusive.

Medical experts are carrying out more tests in Newcastle, but the spokeswoman revealed it could take weeks before they discover how Callum died, and there was an outside chance that they may never know.

"It is unfortunate, but these things can often take weeks to complete," she said. "There appear to be no suspicious circumstances."

An inquest into the death has been opened and adjourned.

Callum's mother, Sarah, revealed JoJo had undergone a number of blood tests to ensure there was nothing wrong with him.

"We won't let him out of our sight," she said.

"He is back sleeping in our bedroom again."

Sarah, 20, told the Evening Press that losing Callum so suddenly was "every parent's worst nightmare". She said he had suffered sickness and diarrhoea the day before he died.

"He was just a healthy little boy one minute, and the next he was dead," she said.

"Callum had asked me to carry him downstairs, which was strange for him. He said he was tired, and that his legs felt numb. I told him to have a little sleep on the sofa. When I looked in on him ten minutes later, his eyes were rolling and he was foaming at the mouth.

"I quickly phoned for an ambulance and ran out to direct them to our house, because they couldn't find it. By the time I went back in, Callum was gone."

Sarah said paramedics made frantic attempts to resuscitate him, but to no avail.

Callum was confirmed dead at York Hospital, at 11.15am, on November 9.

His funeral will take place at St Stephen's Church, Acomb, tomorrow, at 10.30am.

The youngster attended Westfield Nursery School and the headmaster, Mark Barnett, will be giving a tribute at the service.

He said: "I'm so disappointed that a small minority have been spreading rumours, when the parents themselves don't know how Callum died."

Peter, a ground-worker, was working in South Yorkshire when the tragedy struck.

He said: "It's like we are in a dream world. You hear of these things happening to other

people, but not to yourself.

"It has been absolute hell not knowing how he died. I just feel empty without him here.

"We're just trying to ignore these awful rumours. Someone has even been spreading gossip that I was arrested over the death, which is just evil. I don't know who started them, but it's just not helping. It is a nightmare."

Peter said Callum was a "cheeky chap" who loved playing with JoJo, and had a smile for everyone.

"He meant everything to us," he said. "He loved being outside and playing football, and going fishing with me.

"If I was doing some DIY, he would always bring his little toolbox out with him."

The couple said they would like to thank all their family and friends for flowers and messages of support.

Peter said they had received a number of donations towards a headstone for Callum, which they have been raising money for.

"The coroner has told us there is a chance they may never find out how he died," he added. "How can they not know - you can't just die like that?"

A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said: "We're still awaiting the cause of Callum's death. At this stage, it is not being treated as suspicious."

Updated: 08:43 Friday, November 25, 2005