A coroner today delivered an excoriating judgment on how Amber Peat was parented by her cruel mother and step-father as it was revealed social services missed 11 chances to protect her from harm.
The coroner today recorded a narrative conclusion over the death of the teenager, where she sited that she could not be certain of the cause of her death as ‘few agencies had listened to her concerns’.
The 13-year-old ‘Cinderella schoolgirl’ was found hanged in a bush in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, on June 2, 2015 – three days after she disappeared when she was told to ‘scrub every pot and pan in the house’.
Months earlier she had tightened a tie around her neck and said: ‘I hate my life. I want to kill myself’ and there were other examples of self-harm – but her parents wrote it off as attention-seeking, her inquest was told.
Assistant Coroner Laurinda Bower said last week she counted 11 ‘missed opportunities’ over the last two years to save Amber’s life, including persistent running away from home and twice trying self-strangulation.
Mrs Bower has said there was evidence that Danny Peat was ‘a compulsive liar, gambling with the use of drugs’ and believed this ‘should have triggered safeguarding coverage by Derbyshire health services.’
She added: ‘There were 11 missed opportunities where Amber and her family did not get support in place. There should have been much more robust discussions about emotional abuse by sharing information.’
Experts said she had been ’emotionally abused’ at home and subjected to a series of draconian punishments, sometimes in the middle of the night, by Mr Peat.
Amber Peat’s tragic life was laid bare in her inquest where the coroner listed 11 missed opportunities to save her
The 13-year-old’s mother Kelly Peat and step-father Danny (both pictured today) had put some of her behaviour down to attention seeking and failed to report her missing for eight hours, by which time she was already dead
Adrian Cook, Amber Peat’s biological father, was at the inquest as it closed today having given evidence about the rocky relationship he had with Amber’s mum and step-dad
Three days before she was found death Amber stormed out of her house after a row with mother Kelly Peat and step-father over cleaning out a cool box following a holiday to Cornwall.
The couple failed to report her missing for eight hours after going to the supermarket, out for dinner and to the car wash.
Amber believed her parents ‘cared more for their dog’ than her before she died, it was claimed.
Amber Peat was asked to do draconian chores and said her parents cared more about their dog than her
The little girl had fallen out with her parents after several rows over domestic chores and had struggled with the demands of growing up in their home and moving schools.
On one occasion she was ‘made to wash every pot in the house’ and Amber had claimed she ‘couldn’t celebrate her birthday this year because of her behaviour’, the inquest into her death heard.
Her teacher said Amber told her her stepfather had woken her at 1.30am to make her mop the floor and her mother once smashed up the 13-year-old’s phone
The inquest heard that Amber was ridiculed at school when she turned up in baggy tracksuit bottoms and with her items in a plastic bag and later said it was one of her stepfather’s punishments.
As their relationship struggled Amber 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, the teenager’s youth worker said.
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 social services.
The letter began ‘Dear mum, I just want to be your little girl again’.
Amber was found dead in this hedgerow in Mansfield – but her mother believes she had not meant to hang herself and taking part in a self-farm competition with classmates
But her mother Kelly Peat ‘laughed’ at it in the spring of 2014 – leaving Amber feeling ‘disappointed’, Amber’s youth worker Sorele Swallow said.
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’.
Teachers would say that she ‘didn’t get as much attention at home as would be considered normal’ before she died.
Amber Peat’s biological father Adrian Cook (pictured) said he was bombarded with a angry insults from Amber’s stepfather Danny Peat who called him: ‘You are nothing but a sperm donor’
Giving evidence earlier this month Amber’s mother denied her daughter had wanted to kill herself and instead claimed the teenager was taking part in a self-harming ‘competition’ at school.
Kelly Peat said her 13-year-old child’s intention was to ‘mark herself’ rather than take her own life.
She said: ‘We thought she was going to come back. I was just giving her time to calm down’.
Amber’s mother also told the Nottingham inquest into her death that she had smashed her daughter’s phone with a hammer during one big row.
She also admitted they would ‘butt heads’ over household chores but denied allegations that the 13-year-old was made to get up out of bed at 10.30pm and clean the floors for three hours.
But Mrs Peat sobbed as she knocked back allegations made by Amber’s youth worker that she laughed when her daughter gave her a note saying ‘I just want to be your little girl again’.
The inquest also laid bare the troubled relationship between Amber’s mother, step-father and biological father Adrian Cook.
He found out about the 13-year-old’s disappearance on Facebook and tried to contact her mother, Kelly Peat, for information, but was bombarded with angry insults from Danny Peat.
Danny Peat told Amber’s estranged father: ‘She is not your f****** daughter. She wants nothing to do with you. You are nothing but a sperm donor’, the inquest heard.
Kelly Peat, and step father Danny Peat appeal for missing Amber to come home before she was found dead in 2015
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
Mr Cook told coroner Laurinda Bower how he and Kelly met around 2000 and had two children including Amber before splitting on Christmas Eve 2012, when he moved out of the family home in Derby.
Mr Cook said he last saw his children in early 2013, when Amber was 10, and took them for a meal in a pub. He claimed she was ‘happy and cheerful’ – until he said he had to take her home.
Asked by Ms Bower why that was the final time he saw them, Mr Cook replied: ‘My shifts were all over the place. I tried to ring Kelly and said I would be off this week, and Kelly said I could not see them at the drop of a hat.
‘Every time I phoned her it would be inconvenient. There would be ‘family business’ to see to, or ‘we are taking them here, or there”.
‘The last time was a heated discussion. It was getting to the point where you are beaten down by it. I wanted to see the children.’
Mr Cook said that during their last conversation, Kelly told him: ‘You just can’t see them when you want to.’
The inquest heard he considered talking to a solicitor, but didn’t feel he ‘had a leg to stand on’.
At some point around March 2013, he went to their home – but found it was empty.
Mr Cook said: ‘I went to a friends’ house on the estate, but they said that one morning they woke up and they had upped and gone. I had no idea where they’d gone.’
He added the next contact he had with the Peats was on the day after Amber disappeared. Mr Cook told the hearing: ‘I found out in Facebook so I tried to contact Kelly with the number off the missing person posters.
‘I got vile abuse off Danny – ‘she is not your f****** daughter, she wants nothing to do with you, you are nothing but a sperm donor.
‘I phoned back again and spoke to Danny’s mum. I didn’t get much information. I was in deep shock about it.’
He added he didn’t know about any issues surrounding his daughter that the inquest had heard about, including her running away from home previously and problems at school.
Mr Cook’s mother Jennifer Lancaster – Amber’s grandmother – then gave evidence.
She described her granddaughter as a ‘lovely, sweet, lovable child’ who ‘liked to cuddle and play silly girly things like dressing up, and with her make-up bag’.
Mrs Lancaster said she saw Amber ‘quite frequently’ when she was young – but when her son and Kelly split up she only saw her ‘two or three’ times before her death.
Later in the hearing biological father was given the chance to quiz her stepfather at Nottingham Coroner’s Court during the month long inquiry into her death since he is a registered ‘interested party’.
Adrian Cook claimed he found out the teenager was missing on Facebook.
Adrian said to Danny: ‘I have sat here and listened to the evidence and I think you have approached this as a joke. I think you have treated this whole courtroom as a joke.’
He then asked him: ‘Making Amber wash the dishes all the time, did you ever consider her emotional well-being?’
Danny replied: ‘I saw her as my daughter, but obviously kids do have to have some sort of discipline in place. I didn’t think washing pots was a massive thing.’
Adrian then asked if it was ‘neglectful’ that they had waited so long to report Amber missing.
Danny replied: ‘I wasn’t worried. I just assumed she would walk through the door. That she had had a strop and walked out and would be back soon.’
Amber’s mother and step-father Danny Peat didn’t report her missing for almost eight hours after going to the supermarket and having supper.
Amber vanished at around 5.10pm – but wasn’t reported missing until 12.56am the following day, after her parents had their dinner and went shopping.
Tragically she was already dead by that point.
PC Nicola Roe was one of the first officers to respond to the missing persons call from Kelly.
She went to the family home with a colleague and was told by the 37-year-old that Amber had stormed out of the house after being asked to clean out a cool box.
Asked by coroner Laurinda Bower for her observations about Kelly, PC Roe replied: ‘She was quite matter-of-fact about how she was describing the situation.’
The officer said she ‘wasn’t really surprised’ because ‘people present differently’, adding: ‘She seemed tired but not particularly emotional. Not upset, maybe frustrated.
‘She explained the background that she had gone missing previously in similar circumstances, and referred to her throwing temper tantrums and attention-seeking behaviour.’
PC Roe said the family ‘seemed quite well rehearsed in giving information to the police’, and ‘the general consensus was they expected her back the next morning’.
She added: ‘They said she normally came back at night and that is why they left it quite late to report it.’
The last man to see her alive later revealed that detectives turned up at his door two days after he reported it to them.
Adam Lamb said the police asked if they could walk to where he last spotted Amber at 5.20pm on May 30 2015 and she was found hanging in the hedgerow nearby on June 2.