Nottingham

Amber Peat was 'scared' to go home from school

Amber Peat Image copyright Other
Image caption Amber Peat "always had a sad face", according to a former class teacher

A 13-year-old girl who was found hanged after going missing was sometimes "concerned about going home", one of her teachers has told an inquest.

Amber Peat was found in bushes three days after she walked out of her home in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, following an argument about chores.

Teacher Joanne Holland said she had to phone Amber's mother on one occasion because she was too scared to go home.

She had found Amber sitting in the library at the end of the day.

"She was worried about going home because she had lost the belt off her coat," Mrs Holland told Nottinghamshire Coroner's Court.

"She basically said she was scared she was going to get told off. I had to phone home and tell mum, 'It really is fine, we will find it'."

Image caption Amber's mother and stepfather appealed for information when she went missing

Amber lived with her mother Kelly Peat and stepfather Daniel Peat, and went missing on 30 May 2015.

Mrs Holland was Amber's form tutor when she joined Tibshelf Community School in September 2013.

She said Amber often tried to get attention, and she felt this might be because she was not getting enough attention at home.

"I did say to a number of people that she didn't get as much attention at home as would be considered normal," said Mrs Holland.

"She would make a habit of leaving her bag or some possession behind at the end of form time in order to have to come back and get it.

"She liked to walk into a class of older students to get her bag. Obviously the older students, because she was small and cute, were like, 'aww, look at Amber' and she would love that."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Floral tributes and messages to Amber Peat were left near where her body was found

The inquest has heard how Amber changed schools frequently as she moved house "no less than 11 times" across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

Amber left Tibshelf Community School before the end of her first year there, which concerned Mrs Holland and other staff.

"We had lots of conversations about how sad we were, because we felt she was making good progress," said Mrs Holland.

"We thought it would be a step backwards for Amber."

Image caption Posters were put in the windows of shops and houses as the public joined the search for Amber

Keeley Vardy, who previously taught Amber at Town End Junior School in Tibshelf, said she seemed "quite sullen" when she arrived there in April 2013, aged 11.

However, her personality apparently changed as she became more settled, she was "a hard worker" and she had "a lot of potential" academically, particularly when it came to reading.

Miss Vardy said she was concerned when Amber's mother wanted to take her out of school during a week when Amber was due to take her SAT tests, which are important for students.

This was in May 2013, and Amber's mother was preparing to marry Amber's stepfather.

Amber was apparently also worried about missing her exams.

"Although she was excited about wearing a nice dress, she was concerned she would miss some of her SATs," said Miss Vardy.

In the end, Amber just had the Friday off, as her mother was getting married at the weekend.

Image caption Amber's body was found in Westfield Lane, about a mile from her home in Bosworth Street

Miss Vardy told the inquest it was important for pupils to eat breakfast, but she discovered Amber had not eaten anything on the morning of her SATs.

"I found out she had not had breakfast so my teaching assistant took her up and gave her some biscuits from the staff room and walked her back down," said Miss Vardy.

Beverley Wilson, who was head teacher at the school, said Amber's mother was often late when dropping her children off at school and picking them up.

She recalled speaking to Mr Peat on the phone about a problem with Amber's younger sister, and got the impression he "seemed quite a disciplinarian".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Volunteers from the community helped police search for Amber

The inquest also heard evidence from GP Paul Gadsden, who had a consultation with Amber and her mother on 18 October 2013 because of "behaviour issues".

These included "running away from home because she had been told off for certain things", he said.

Dr Gadsden said Mrs Peat told him that Amber's stepfather had mental health issues and borderline personality disorder. According to Dr Gadsden, Amber said she felt responsible for her stepfather's bad moods.

The GP spoke to Amber's teacher, Mrs Holland, then decided to make a referral to a "multi-agency team" (MAT) in Derbyshire because of his concerns.

However, he admitted to the inquest that he did not get around to doing so until 2 January 2014.

The inquest continues.

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