A family let down by the police, social services and local council

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The Independent Online

The inquest has heard that Fiona Pilkington felt "under siege" for more than a decade from the 16-strong gang. At one point her son Anthony, now 19, was marched at knife-point to a shed and beaten with an iron bar.

The gang pelted the home with stones, made threats and screamed abuse until the early hours, prompting Ms Pilkington to write in her diary that she was "stressed out" and "couldn't sleep". Some of the gang were children from a particular "problem family" which "refused to accept that their children had done anything wrong".

Ms Pilkington contacted local police 33 times over seven years, but members of the gang were never charged and she was told she was "overreacting".

Social services were aware Ms Pilkington was experiencing "suicidal thoughts" and kept a diary documenting the abuse, but she was never assessed. Tony Howlett, service manager for people with learning disabilities at Leicestershire County Council, said it was seen as "more of a general expression of her anxieties at the bullying and harassment and not any sort of intention to commit suicide".

Tim Butterworth, antisocial behaviour officer at the council, said he was "unaware" that the family had any difficulties and had had "no concerns" about their situation. Superintendent Steve Harrod, head of criminal justice at Leicestershire Police, said that it was "mainly the responsibility of the council" to tackle such "low-level" abuse.

Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council made efforts to impose antisocial behaviour agreements and, later, civil court action, but legal action by the county council to impose an injunction began just eight days before the pair died in 2007.

Coroner Olivia Davison asked why social workers hadn't discussed the problems with the family, which she said could have helped to "avert" the deaths.

A serious case review was opened. It found that Leicestershire County Council, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council and Leicestershire Police failed to share information.

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