Nottingham

Amber Peat: Mother 'not upset' over disappearance

Amber Peat
Image caption Amber Peat was found hanged after going missing from her home in Mansfield

The mother of a 13-year-girl who went missing and was later found dead did not appear upset when she spoke to police, an inquest has heard.

Kelly Peat waited about eight hours before reporting her daughter Amber missing, by which point it is believed she was already dead.

Former PC Nicola Roe told an inquest how Mrs Peat was "not particularly emotional, as in upset".

Amber was found hanged three days after going missing in May 2015.

Nottingham Coroner's Court heard Ms Roe was one of two officers who initially visited Amber's home in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.

Ms Roe, who has since left the force, said she spoke to Mrs Peat while her colleague searched the house and spoke to Amber's stepfather, Daniel Peat.

"The general circumstances about how she left the address were they had had an argument after asking Amber to empty the cool-box or rinse out the cool-box, which was due to their return from holiday," she said.

"She had not been happy about being asked to do that and then they had heard the door slam and at that point Amber had left the address."

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Image caption The inquest has previously heard from teachers who were concerned about Amber's welfare at home

Amber left the house at about 17:15 BST on 30 May 2015 and her mother reported her missing at 00:56, in which time she had looked for her daughter, but had also done some supermarket shopping and had a meal.

Police visited the family home at about 04:00.

Speaking about Mrs Peat, Ms Roe said: "The observations I recall in my statement were that she seemed quite matter-of-fact about how she was describing the situation."

The coroner Laurinda Bower referred to the officer's statement, in which she wrote there was "no emotion".

Ms Roe replied: "Yeah, she seemed tired but not particularly emotional, as in upset, more frustrated."

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

Mrs Peat told police that Amber had previously run away from home but usually returned.

"I think really my gut feeling was this was something that had happened a number of times recently," said Ms Roe.

"The family seemed to be rehearsed in terms of giving information to police and behaved like this had happened a number of times recently and the general consensus from talking to family was that she would come back the next morning.

"She would usually come back at night so that's why they had left it quite late to report it. Generally, they expected her to come back."

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

The inquest also heard evidence from the police officer who found Amber's body in bushes on 2 June.

Det Con Karl Aram was led there by a man living nearby who had seen Amber at about 17:50 on the day she went missing.

As they got closer, the police officer noticed an "extremely small" gap in the "very dense hedgerow".

"You can't see through it and it looks like something that young people have forced their way into purposely," he said.

"It was something that you could quite easily miss and walk past and you couldn't see very far in.

"I had to squeeze through it and crouch down and get my head through the gap.

"I looked and immediately saw a female facing me.

"It was immediately clear to me that she was dead."

Image caption Adam Lamb, who saw Amber shortly before she died, said she "looked at me and smiled"

A statement from the man who accompanied the police officer was read out at the inquest.

Adam Lamb had been cleaning his car on 30 May when he saw Amber walking down the street and moved to let her pass.

"She looked at me and smiled as if to say thanks," he said in his statement.

Mr Lamb and his wife watched Amber continue walking down Westfield Lane towards the bushes where she was later found dead.

They saw her "looking into the bushes like she was going inside them, then she disappeared".

At lunchtime the following day his wife showed him an article about Amber's disappearance which had been posted on the Facebook page for the Chad, a local newspaper.

They reported the sighting to police and officers tried looking for Amber that day, but did not find her.

Det Con Karl Aram and a colleague then visited the couple two days later, at 18:30 on 2 June, and Amber was found with Mr Lamb's help.

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Media captionKelly and Daniel Peat appeared at a press conference in the days following Amber's disappearance

The coroner asked Det Ch Supt Rob Griffin, who was head of crime for the county division at the time, why police did not act upon Mr Lamb's sighting sooner.

"It was acted upon," he said.

"Officers did act upon it on the Sunday [31 May] and did go to the area where the girl we now almost certainly know was Amber was seen.

"Unfortunately what officers didn't do was see Mr Lamb and ask him to take them exactly to the spot where Amber was seen. So it was acted upon."

He said police were also dealing with a huge number of calls in response to a media appeal for Amber, which was started by her family.

Amber's mother and stepfather have not yet given evidence at the inquest, which continues.

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