By Steve Bird
London Times online
The ringleaders of a gang of children that terrorised a mother who killed herself and her disabled daughter continue to be a menace in the area, a jury heard yesterday.
The children, who have virtually no parental control, are said to remain the root cause of antisocial behaviour on the street where they tormented Fiona Pilkington and her severely disabled daughter, Francecca, for almost ten years.
The women’s inquests were told yesterday that Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council’s community safety team still receives complaints about the family in Barwell, Leicestershire.
Mrs Pilkington, 38, was driven to such despair by the children that she drove her car to a lay-by and set it alight while she and her 18-year-old daughter sat inside. Their bodies were found in the family’s Austin Maestro just off the A47 near Earl Shilton, Leicestershire, in October 2007. They were burnt beyond recognition and had to be identified by DNA samples taken from their home.
Giving evidence at Loughborough Town Hall, Ron Grantham, the council’s community safety manager, said: “Throughout this tragic case this family continues to cause trouble even to this day.”
His team had been called by Mrs Pilkington to say that her son and daughter were being hounded by children in February 2007, eight months before her death.
Tim Butterworth, the council’s antisocial behaviour officer, spent more than an hour with the mother who explained how her son, Anthony, now 19, and Francecca had been targeted.
His notes listed how she was suffering “distress and anxiety” after having stones thrown at the house, milk stolen, verbal and threatening abuse and the children jumping into her hedges.
He identified eight children, aged from 9 to 16, from five separate families as involved in the hate campaign, said to be because they did not like Francecca and Anthony’s disabilities.
The parents from all five families received a letter warning that further action would be taken unless the behaviour ceased. While four families replied to the letter and were seen by the council officer, only the one family, who cannot be named, was believed to have “torn up” the letter and was never visited, Mr Grantham said.
“One of the particular offenders of antisocial behaviour continues to cause problems. It’s not just one member of the family, it’s more,” he added. He said that the parents had refused to sign an “acceptable behaviour contract” and failed to meet a council official and a police officer to discuss their children’s behaviour. Full story.