Amber Peat’s biological father Adrian Cook, pictured, has vowed to continue fighting for his daughter after a coroner recorded a narrative conclusion over her death
The father of a 13-year-old girl who died after running away from home has slammed her mother and stepfather and said he will continue fighting for his daughter.
Amber Peat was found hanged in a bush in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, in 2015 three days after she disappeared after being told to ‘scrub every pot and pan in the house’.
On Friday a coroner recorded a narrative conclusion over Amber’s death and said social services had missed 11 chances to protect her from harm.
Now Adrian Cook, the teenager’s biological father who had not seen his daughter since 2013, has said he will ‘stand for Amber,’ reports the BBC.
Mr Cook said: ‘I don’t know how people can sit there and say their daughter is a liar.
‘It’s a personal fight for me. I’m standing for Amber. She wasn’t the first and she certainly won’t be the last. It’s disgraceful.’
The inquest at Nottingham Coroner’s Court heard from experts that the ‘Cinderella schoolgirl’ had been ’emotionally abused’ at home.
They said she had been subjected to a series of draconian punishments, sometimes in the middle of the night, by her stepfather Mr Peat.
Amber, pictured, was found hanged in a bush in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, in 2015 three days after she disappeared from her home
Amber’s stepmother Lynda Cook said they were not aware of the teenager’s problems at home.
Mrs Cook has been married to Mr Cook for four and a half years but never met his daughter.
She said: ‘The first time I saw her in the chapel of rest, I said to Amber, “We’ll get justice for you”.’
Assistant Coroner Laurinda Bower recorded a narrative conclusion over the death of the teenager, citing that she could not be certain of the cause of her death.
This was because ‘few agencies had listened to her concerns’ and that ‘she couldn’t have been sure of Amber’s intentions at the time of her death’.
She said she counted 11 ‘missed opportunities’ over two years to save Amber’s life, including persistent running away from home and twice trying self-strangulation.
The 13-year-old’s mother Kelly Peat, left, and step-father Danny, right, had put some of her behaviour down to attention seeking and failed to report her missing for eight hours
The couple, pictured during an appeal Amber to come home before she was found dead, were described as ‘not concerned in the slightest’ about Amber’s welfare by the coroner
Mrs Bower also highlighted that Amber was a girl who ‘craved attention from her mother’.
Months earlier Amber 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.
Missed opportunities to help Amber Peat before she died
January 2014 – GP refers Amber to social services after her mother brings her to the doctors over concerns about her behaviour. But the only action taken was to arrange a series of one-on-one meetings between Amber and a youth worker, and didn’t arrange a detailed assessment of the family in their home, something recommend by the Peats’ GP. And the team didn’t share any information with its counterpart in Nottingham after the family moved over the border, because staff failed to gain the consent of Amber’s parents to do so.
March 2014 – Amber’s previous school, Tibshelf Secondary, contacted Derby County Council, with concerns about her following an incident when she ran away from home at night and turned up on the school site. Her head of year, David Wallace, drove Amber home and said that Amber ‘remarked that they wouldn’t care, they were more interested in the dog’. The school told authorities it was concerned her parents had ‘stopped calling the police’ when she ran away, and the failure to collect her when she turned up at school. But the inquest heard the concerns ‘didn’t meet the required threshold’ for social services to intervene in Amber’s case.
May 2014 – At a subsequent get-together in May 2014, Mr Wallace said Amber and her parents had appeared ‘very forced and contrived’ and he had ‘a gut feeling’ all was not well at home – but he never reported it to anyone.
March 2015 – The girl’s form tutor at Queen Elizabeth’s school, Rebecca Beard, emailed the school’s safeguarding team about Amber, over concerns she was ‘always hungry’, losing weight, wearing trousers that she had outgrown and was being emotionally abused at home. But no action was taken after the school contacted Nottingham County Council – and was told to speak to Kelly about the claims.
May 2015 – Amber’s mother and step father fail to report her missing for eight hours after going to the supermarket, out for dinner and to the car wash.
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.
At the conclusion of the month-long inquest at Nottingham Coroner’s Court, Mrs Bower said: ‘If the agencies had responded to safeguarding concerns in the appropriate manner it is possible that Amber’s death may not have occurred in the way that it did’.
Amber hanged herself in bushes less than a mile from the home where she lived with her mother Kelly Peat, 37, and stepfather Danny Peat, 34.
She was found dead three days after running away following an argument over chores when the family returned from a holiday in Cornwall on May 30, 2015.
Mr and Mrs Peat did not contact police to report her disappearance for eight hours, instead going shopping, washing the car and having their evening meal.
Amber repeatedly spoke of problems at home to staff at four separate schools.
But although ‘multi-agency teams’ in both Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire were aware of the issues, there was no intervention by social services.
The only action was to assign a children’s worker to have one-to-one meetings with Amber.
Mr Cook said he found out about his daughter’s disappearance on Facebook and tried to contact her mother 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.
Last week Danny Peat announced he plans to make a documentary to ‘prove to the world he is blameless’ in his stepdaughter’s death.
Mr Peat plans to appear on television in a bid to ‘clear his name’, claiming he has been portrayed as the ‘evil stepdad.’
Speaking to The Sun, Danny Peat said: ‘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.
The family did not report Amber missing until they had ‘been to Tesco and had their tea’
‘It’s disgusting the way I have been portrayed in all this. The documentary is the only way I have to clear my name.’
During the inquest Amber’s mother Kelly and Mr Peat insisted the accusations were lies, but were described as ‘not concerned in the slightest’ about Amber’s welfare by the coroner.
Amber believed her parents ‘cared more for their dog’ than her before she died, it was claimed.
In 2014 Danny was jailed for 16 months for tax fraud – something Amber told teachers was a ‘big secret’ in the family home.
He received a suspended sentence for animal cruelty three years earlier after a pet rabbit was found starved to death in its hutch at the house where he was staying.