22 Feb 19
The Scottish Sun
SOCIAL workers missed 11 chances to save the life of tragic teen Amber Peat, a coroner has previously said.
Amber, 13, was found hanged in bushes near her home in Mansfield, West Mids, after storming out during a row with her parents.
Amber vanished for three days before police found her
Her inquest, set to conclude this afternoon, heard there were “missed opportunities” to protect the schoolgirl – who died after tying a tie around her neck and saying: “I hate my life. I want to kill myself.”
Amber would often run away from home and was “emotionally abused” by her stepdad Danny Peat, the Nottingham inquest was told.
The teenager made various complaints to teachers about her family life and once claimed that Mr Peat had woken her up at 1.30am and made her mop their kitchen floor.
Amber also concerned teachers when when they had to feed her a breakfast of biscuits before her SATS exams or when staff spotted her wearing baggy tracksuit bottoms to class rather than her uniform.
The youngster also complained that she had been banned from having a birthday and that her mum smashed her mobile phone up.
But even after Amber tightened a tie and a scarf around her neck – nothing was done.
The shocking incidents were only revealed after her life was tragically cut short on June 2 2015.
[quote credit=”Laurinda Bower ” credit-meta=”Assistant Coroner”]No-one got to the heart of how Amber was feeling because there was not that support in place.[/quote]
Assistant Coroner Laurinda Bower said: “No-one got to the heart of how Amber was feeling because there was not that support in place.”
Dr Cath Connor, who worked on a review into Amber’s Case, said Amber’s views were not properly heard.
She said: “The dominant narrative was the mother and stepfather being believed, even to the point where the GP reported that Amber’s behaviour was attention seeking.
“There were different perceptions and sadly not really got to the heart of what it was like being Amber.”
The month-long inquest has heard from Amber’s teachers, who described an unhappy child, often overlooked and “put upon” by her parents.
AN ‘UNHAPPY CHILD’
Amber also told a youth worker she had been forced to “wash every pot in the house” as a punishment.
Concerns were flagged several times, but the pieces of the jigsaw were never put together and, alarmingly, protocol was not followed on a number of occasions.
The clues were there three years before Amber’s death, when her form tutor at John Davies Primary School, Tibshelf, Derbs.,described her as “quite an unhappy child” with a “sad face.”
Joanna Holt said: “She had lots of jobs to do that her siblings weren’t expected to do in the same way.
“She felt her siblings got away with things and she would be passed the blame at times.
[quote credit=”Joanna Holt”]She had low self-esteem and would make negative comments about herself.[/quote]
“She had low self-esteem and would make negative comments about herself.”
Amber’s parents were late for pick-up “more often than not,” according to Head teacher Beverley Wilson, and she was regularly found hiding in the corner of the library at hometime.
“She was fed up, basically,” said Mrs Wilson.
At this time, Amber had been through an emotional rollercoaster at home. Her mum, Kelly, had split with her dad, Adrian, on Christmas Eve 2012.
CLASHED WITH NEW DAD
Within a matter of months, Amber had a new stepdad, in the form of Kelly’s childhood friend Danny Peat, a new surname and had lost contact with Adrian and her paternal grandmother, Jennifer Lancaster.
Adrian claims Kelly thwarted his attempts to see Amber and another child, who cannot be named, and says he didn’t know where his daughter was after the Peats moved house without telling him.
In January 2014, Kelly took Amber to the GP, over concerns about her behaviour.
While each school described Amber as “bright”, some also pointed to attention-seeking in class.
Amber was referred to a Multi-Agency Team (MAT) of health and education professionals at Derbyshire County Council.
But, crucially, a Common Assessment Framework which would provide a picture of the family
During the first two months of 2014, Amber ran away from home twice.
Ms Bower said: “When she went missing in January 2014 the social services did not follow a pro forma, did not visit her home within 72 hours of her return and did it with her mother present, so questions were not asked about why she went missing.
“In February 2014 she again was not asked upon return why she went missing.”
RAN AWAY FROM HOME
In April, Amber again fled from home following a row with her mum and a sibling, and turned up in the cold and rain at 9pm at her school, Tibshelf Secondary.
Her head of year, David Wallace, called her parents but was told they were busy with their dog, who was in labour and couldn’t pick their daughter up.
As he drove Amber home, she said of her parents: “They wouldn’t care. They were more interested in the dog.”
[quote credit=”Laurinda Bower ” credit-meta=”Assistant Coroner”]There were 11 missed opportunities where Amber and here family did not get support in place.[/quote]
The school contacted the MAT team, but a statutory follow-up meeting was not carried out.
The coroner described Danny as “a compulsive liar, gambling with the use of drugs”, saying this “should have triggered safeguarding coverage by Derbyshire health services.”
She said: “There were 11 missed opportunities where Amber and here family did not get support in place.
“There should have been much more robust discussions about emotional abuse by sharing information.”
At her next school, Queen Elizabeth’s Academy, Amber was again described as a bright, bubbly girl, who joined the choir and loved dancing.
But Vice principal at Queen Elizabeth’s Acadmy, Karen Green, flagged concerns to the Notts County Council’s Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH): “This one is ringing alarm bells. My gut instinct is there is something not right here and I can’t put my finger on it.”
A second call to MASH came six months later, in March 2015, when Amber’s school key worker Sharon Clay thought she was being “emotionally abused” by her stepdad.
Both calls to the safeguarding team resulted in the same response: Amber’s case did not merit social services intervention.
[quote credit=”Karen Green”]This one is ringing alarm bells. My gut instinct is there is something not right here and I can’t put my finger on it.[/quote]
Danny and Kelly Peath both claim Amber had fabricated tales of other harsh punishments.
Danny said: “It wasn’t just about me. There were other accusations about a teacher, there were accusations about her biological father, saying he had hit her – so yes, she did say lies.”
Before her death, the family holidayed in Cornwall. Amber had “been in trouble quite a lot”, according to a child witness, and had even written a “runaway list” with a cousin.
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The night of her disappearance, Amber left home at around 5.10pm.
Her parents believed it was a “strop.”
They went shopping at Tesco, to the carwash and ate dinner before calling police at 12.56am, almost eight hours after Amber disappeared despite previously being advised to call police if she fled again.
Danny said: “We weren’t worried. I just assumed she would walk through the door.”
Amber stormed out of her home in Mansfield, West Mids, following a clash with her stepdad
An inquest is exploring the circumstances of schoolgirl Amber Peat’s death in May 2015
Amber’s stepdad Danny Peat arrives at Nottingham Coroner’s Court for the final day of the inquest
Amber’s mum Kelly was also seen making her way into the court this morning
Adrian Cook arrives at Nottingham Coroner’s Court this morning
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