AMBER PEAT: Tragic chapter far from over following death of teenager

Amber Peat.
Amber Peat.

A coroner issued a damning indictment of social services across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire following the conclusion of the inquest into the death of Mansfield teenager Amber Peat.

Delivering a narrative verdict, assistant coroner Laurinder Bower said she could not be sure if Amber intended to kill herself after she crept into bushes after going missing from home and hanged herself.

Kelly Peat arriving at Amber's inquest in Nottingham.

Kelly Peat arriving at Amber's inquest in Nottingham.

The coroner was speaking at Nottingham coroner’s court on Friday at the conclusion of a four week inquest into the death of the tragic teen.

She said: “I am not able to assess in the balance of probability Amber’s intention at the time of her death.

“I have 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 told me but I cannot speculate what that information may have been."

Kelly and Danny Peat appearing at a police press conference in 2015.

Kelly and Danny Peat appearing at a police press conference in 2015.

But the chapter seems far from over today, with a raft of new developments since the conclusion was reached.

Yesterday, step-dad Danny Peat, who was accused of allegedly emotionally abusing the 13-year-old, said he plans to feature in a television documentary to show he is not 'evil'.

speaking to The Sun newspaper, he said: ""I've kept every scrap of evidence and document concerning Amber and I intend setting the record straight by getting my side of the story out, presenting it myself, which I was not able to do despite giving evidence at the inquest.

"Because of what people have made up, the finger has always been pointed at me as the evil stepdad who virtually marched Amber out of the house and let her die. "It's disgusting the way I have been portrayed in all this."

Meanwhile, Amber's mother Kelly also criticised social services, as well as a key witness for changing her evidence last minute.

Amy Robinson, from Nelson's solicitors, who represented Kelly Peat through the inquest, said on her behalf: "“Like all parents, Kelly knows she is not perfect but she has done, and continues to be, the best parent she can for her children.

"She has been subjected to intense media and public scrutiny since Amber’s death and has remained silent until now. Some of the things that have been said have been very hurtful not only to Kelly, but her family too, and they have had a huge impact on their wellbeing.

“Kelly wonders whether things could have been different had Amber and her family received more support and advice for Amber’s behaviour. She proactively sought help on numerous occasions with Amber, and tried to work with the agencies as much as possible.

“Now the inquest has concluded, Kelly would like to bring the focus back to Amber. She and her family will do all that they can to ensure Amber’s memory is kept alive, and they will forever remember her as a wonderful, loving, clever, kind, inquisitive and beautiful girl. A girl who loved reading, who was quick, clever and a true joker. Kelly will always miss her beautiful and thoughtful first-born daughter. She is always thinking about Amber, and what she would be doing now. She doubts the pain of having to live her life without her will ever go away.”

Amber's natural father Adrian Cook also spoke out after the hearing, saying that his dauther was "let down".

Appearing on BBC' Inside Out, Mr Cook is now appealing for more to be done after the inquest found that "at least 11 opportunists" to intervene in Amber's life were missed.

He said: "In my mind they let her down considerably. It is a personal fight for me, I'm standing for Amber.But every other child that slips through the net just becomes a statistic. Nobody buries a 13-year-old daughter. They need to really to look at the system that's in place, because Amber wasn't the first and she won't be the last. It's disgraceful."

He also revealed that he only found out about his daughters disappearance through social media.

Safeguarding bosses also announced that they will publish the serious case review that was carried out after Amber's death.

Amber, aged 13, who moved to Mansfield from the Tibshelf area of Derbyshire, died shortly after 17.50pm on Saturday, May 13, 2015 inside a hedgerow off Westfield Lane, Mansfield, as a result of hanging.

Chris Few, the Independent Chair of the Nottinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board, which aims to support and enable organisations and agencies to work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

He said: “The death of Amber was tragic and our thoughts are with everyone who knew her. We owe it to Amber to learn from what happened and Nottinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board commissioned a serious case review to examine what could be learnt that would lead to improvements in the protection of children.

“Before we publish the serious case review, it is important for all those involved to take some time to reflect on and consider the Coroner’s findings and to identify whether there is any further action needed.”

And the Mansfield school which Amber attended in the months leading up to her death, said it now had an open doors policy in place.

A spokesman from the school said: "Following the conclusion of the inquest on Friday which examined the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of Amber Peat, Queen Elizabeth’s Academy wish to express our deepest condolences to all those whose lives Amber touched

"In September 2016, Diverse Academies took over legal responsibility for the management and operation of Queen Elizabeth's Academy.

"At this point, all policies, procedures and protocols relating to safeguarding were re-written in line with trust policy, which included an overhaul of staff training, record keeping and systems for referral in respect of safeguarding.

"Following an Ofsted inspection on November 30, and December 1, 2016, this found that the arrangements for safeguarding are effective. We are reassured that the coroner recognised that the current safeguarding practice in place is robust.

"The academy prides itself in ensuring that safeguarding and the welfare of students is paramount at all times. "Queen Elizabeth’s Academy operates an open-door policy for any parents or students who have been affected by this inquest, and our team are able to support and discuss any concerns they may have."

Colin Pettigrew, corporate director for children, families and cultural services at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: "“Our thoughts are with all those who knew and loved Amber at this very difficult time. We have fully cooperated and participated in the coroner’s inquest and provided all the evidence asked for.

"The coroner has now reached her verdict and we have heard that today, we need to consider very carefully what she has said and reflect on any further actions we may take. “