Tragic schoolgirl, 13, who was found hanged in a hedge was LAUGHED at by her mother when she wrote a letter telling her she ‘just wanted to be her little girl again’, inquest hears
- Amber Peat found dead on June 2 2015 – three days after she went missing
- Her mother Kelly and step-father Danny Peat did not raise the alarm for 8 hours
- Girl, 13, told mother in note: ‘Dear mum, I just want to be your little girl again’
- Kelly Peat ‘laughed’ at the letter in the spring of 2014, Amber’s youth worker said
- Amber also confided in adult her parents ‘cared more for their dog’ than her
‘Cinderella’ schoolgirl Amber Peat wrote a letter to her mother before she was found hanged telling her: ‘I just want to be your little girl again’ – but her parent laughed at it, an inquest heard today.
The 13-year-old from Mansfield, who was found hanged in a hedgerow three days after she ran away from home following a row about chores, penned the note during a meeting with a youth worker.
The inquest heard today that her letter began ‘Dear mum, I just want to be your little girl again’.
But her mother Kelly Peat ‘laughed’ at it in the spring of 2014 – leaving Amber feeling ‘disappointed’, Amber’s youth worker Sorele Swallow told the inquest into her death today.
Miss Swallow also said that Amber had been told not to talk about her home life and and warned: ‘What goes on in this house stays in this house’.
Amber was struggling with the demands of growing up, worried about her place in her family and told a teacher she believed her parents ‘cared more for their dog’ than her before she died on June 2, 2015, it was claimed.
Amber Peat wrote to her mother Kelly telling her: ‘I just wanted to be you little girl again’ – but she laughed at it, an inquest heard today
Daniel Peat, step father of Amber Peat, arrives at Nottingham Coroner’s Court today for the fifth day of the inquest
The schoolgirl’s body was discovered three days after she left the home in Mansfield, she shared with mother Kelly, step-father Danny, and two younger siblings.
Youth worker Sorele Swallow told the inquest Amber agreed to write the letter to her mother to improve their relationship and said the teenager was disappointed when her mum laughed
The inquest at Nottingham Coroner’s Court has previously been told Amber’s mother and step-father didn’t report her missing for almost eight hours after going shopping and having supper.
The coroner was told claims from teachers that she ‘didn’t get as much attention at home as would be considered normal’.
On the fifth day of the Nottingham inquest, the youth support worker who was allocated to Amber, then 11, after the family was referred to their local council by a GP gave evidence.
Miss Swallow, who had a series of one-on-one meetings with Amber in 2014, described her as ‘delightful’ and a ‘lovely, bright little girl with a great sense of humour who was cheeky but not in a naughty way’.
However, she said the youngster was ‘struggling a little bit to find her place in the family.
Miss Swallow added: ‘Although she was a little girl she was the eldest child in the family.
‘There were issues of having to share with another sibling. How do you find space for yourself in that situation?
‘She spoke positively about her mum, that she had a good sense of humour and a good relationship before but not as good now.
‘She felt her behaviour had damaged the relationship but did not know what she could do to stop behaving the way she did.
‘She was worried she was not herself anymore, and growing up and not being able to be silly anymore. She wanted to still be a little girl.
‘Mum was pregnant, and when the new baby was born she would have to be even more grown up, and did not want to be.’
Kelly Peat, and step father Danny Peat appeal for missing Amber to come home before she was found dead in 2015
Miss Swallow said she suggested Amber wrote a letter to her mum discussing her issues.
Amber Peat (pictured) hanged herself after fleeing home after a row with her stepfather – but wasn’t reported missing for eight hours
The youth worker added: ‘It was an apologetic tone.. I want things to be back, I want things to be right with us. She referenced her attitude.
‘She said she would give it to her mum.’
Asked by coroner Laurinda Bower if she had had done so, Miss Swallow replied: ‘Amber said that she had given it to her mum but that her mum had laughed at it. She looked at it and didn’t take it seriously so she wasn’t going to do it again.
‘She seemed disappointed when she told me.’
Miss Swallow was also quizzed by Ms Bower about an occasion when Amber claimed she had been left at home alone to wash pots as a punishment and had ‘escaped’ out of a window before climbing back through and going to sleep in bed ahead of her parents’ return.
The inquest heard that in a later meeting, Amber claimed her parents had told her ‘what goes on this house stays in this house’ – something Miss Swallow said ‘concerned’ her.
Following an incident in April 2014 in which Mr and Mrs Peat refused to pick Amber up from school because their ‘dog was in labour’ after she ran away from home at night, Miss Swallow wrote a ‘case note’ containing a number of ‘concerns’.
One was ‘family heavily sanctioning Amber’s undesirable behaviour’ – and included a punishment which saw her told to wash every pot in the house.
The family did not report Amber missing until they had ‘been to Tesco and had their tea’. Pictured above the missing poster which was put up once it had been reported that Amber was missing
Volunteers from the local community (pictured above) pitched in during the search for Amber
Miss Swallow said: ‘Any sanctions you put in place need to be proportional to what the child has done.
‘I did not see the point in it. If a child has got an attitude, and a lot do, I am not sure what they will learn from that action.
‘I understood it to be washing everything.’
The inquest heard another concern saw Amber ‘stating she no longer feels part of the family anymore. Everyone gets on with everyone else apart from me. We are drifting apart and will soon have nothing left.’
Miss Swallow added Amber said she ‘had been told she would not be doing anything on her birthday because of bad behaviour’ – but this didn’t seem to worry her as much as her concerns over not feeling part of the family.
The youth worker told the hearing she supported escalating Amber’s case to social care – the next level of intervention – but the move never took place after her family agreed to meet with her school.
She was then asked by Ms Bower if she thought Amber was capable of taking her own life, and if she was aware of incidents when the schoolgirl had placed a ligature around her neck in front of other people.
Miss Swallow said she wasn’t, adding: ‘I do not believe any child of that age has the capacity to understand the full consequences of their activity.
‘I don’t think she could have understood the gravity of her actions.’
She said she did not believe Amber had any mental health issues, telling Ms Bower: ‘I can categorically state that at no point was I concerned she would harm herself or hurt herself in any way.’
On Thursday, the inquest heard Amber told a teacher her parents ‘cared more for their dog’ than her.
David Wallace, Amber’s Head of Year at Tibshelf Secondary School, described how he was called by a caretaker after she turned up at school at night having ran away from home.
Mr Wallace said he called her family to see if it was safe for her to return home, but was told neither parent could come to collect her because ‘their dog was in labour’.
He was forced to drive Amber home himself, telling the inquest she was ‘very quiet’. Mr Wallace added: ‘She remarked that they wouldn’t care, they were more interested in the dog’.
The inquest heard there was ‘minimal emotion’ when Amber was returned.
At a subsequent meeting at the school, in May 2014, Mr Wallace said he had ‘a gut feeling’ all was not well at home.
Peter Kenworthy, pastoral lead at the school, told the hearing that ‘with hindsight’ the school could have done more to refer Amber’s case to social care services.
But he said a focus at the time was on ensuring improvements in her behaviour since joining the school was not undone by the disruption of another house move.
The inquest, which is expected to last around a month, continues.