A 13-year-old girl who was found hanged could still be alive if the authorities had done their job, a coroner has ruled.
The body of Amber Peat, 13, was discovered in bushes three days after she disappeared from her home in Mansfield after a row with her parents about chores.
At the end of a four-week inquest, assistant coroner Laurinda Bower ruled out suicide, saying she couldn’t determine ‘Amber’s intention at the time of her death’.
Amber Peat was found hanged in bushes (Picture: Enterprise)She said: ‘Considering Amber’s age, her emotional immaturity and her undoubted vulnerability, and the absence of any professional ever having properly assessed Amber’s risk of self-harm or suicide, I am not able to determine, on the balance of probabilities, Amber’s intention at the time of her death.
‘My task has been hindered by the lack of information gathered by professionals as to Amber’s thoughts, wishes and feelings.
‘If the right questions had been asked, the information may have presented itself but I cannot speculate as to what that information may have indicated.’
The coroner concluded that Amber’s mother Kelly Peat and stepfather Danny Peat ‘lacked emotional warmth’ towards her.
She found as a fact that the teenager had to scrub the floor until 1.30am and that her stepfather had forced her to wear a ‘ridiculous’ outfit to school in order to humiliate her.
Mother Kelly Peat, and stepfather Danny Peat were ‘not concerned in the slightest’ about Amber’s welfare, the coroner said (Picture: Ross Parry)Amber’s mother and stepfather insisted the accusations were lies, but were described as ‘not concerned in the slightest’ about Amber’s welfare by the coroner.
Mr and Mrs Peat admitted neither of them were worried when Amber stormed out of her home in Bosworth Street, Mansfield, on 30 May 2015, because they believed she was ‘close by’ and expected her to return.
Despite the youngster having a history of running away, Mrs Peat only called police to report her missing nearly eight hours later, at 12.56am the following day.
She admitted she should have called sooner when she gave evidence at the inquest.
The couple decided to go shopping, have the family car washed and have tea during the time the youngster was missing.
Amber Peat’s body was found three days after she stormed out of her home after a row about household chores (Picture: PA)Although up to 400 police staff were involved in the search for Amber, her body was only recovered on June 2.
Ms Bower concluded that ‘household chores being used as punishment fits with the modus operandi of discipline that Mr and Mrs Peat enforced’.
She said the lack of consideration for Amber’s welfare was a ‘theme’ throughout the events leading up to her death, and there was ‘corroborative evidence of the lack of attention that Mrs Peat paid towards her daughter’s feelings such as the lack of emotion when Amber went missing’.
But she also launched a scathing attack on health and children’s safeguarding agencies, saying there was a possibility their 11 missed opportunities could have led to her death.
Concluding with a narrative verdict at the inquest, Ms Bower said: ‘In evidence, both Mr and Mrs Peat sought to present as concerned parents.
A poster attached to a telegraph pole appeals for information about missing teenager Amber Peat (Picture: PA)‘Their behaviour in going to the supermarket and then the car wash, of leaving a missing Amber with no way of getting into the property, and of waiting some seven-and-a-half hours before calling the police, in fact fits squarely with the picture that neither of them was concerned in the slightest when Amber left the house.
‘Perhaps in light of the tragic outcome, both Mr and Mrs Peat would wish to believe that they demonstrated more care when Amber went missing.’
Turning to agencies involved in Amber’s welfare, the coroner said: ‘In my opinion, this case represents a damning indictment of those agencies who are charged with safeguarding children.
‘It is difficult to extrapolate the precise reasons for the multiple failures across so many agencies, but it is more likely than not that the individuals involved failed to appreciate their collective responsibility to information share.
‘It is possible, that with the right assessment and support Amber’s life may not have ended when it did on 30 May 2015.’
Ms Bower concluded the medical cause of death was hanging.