Tragic teen 'liked to create drama' inquest told

Kidderminster Shuttle: 'COMPLEX YOUNG PERSON': Dana Baker. 'COMPLEX YOUNG PERSON': Dana Baker.

A WORCESTERSHIRE County Council social worker thought tragic 16-year-old Dana Baker "liked to create a drama and get everyone running round after her", it was claimed in an inquest.

Liz Tune, who is due to give her own evidence to the hearing this afternoon, is said to have made the comment to the social worker whose role was to support Dana’s foster parents but Liam McCaughley, social worker for foster care agency the Child Care Bureau, said: “I don’t think I would put it like that or share that view.

“She was a very complex young person, very intelligent and articulate, who needed help.”

Dana, from Kidderminster, was found hanging from a tree near the town’s Worcester Road island on March 3, 2011 after she became distressed by the breakdown of her second foster placement, with a couple she grew to call "mum and dad".

She had been in care since taking an overdose after making disclosures, while a pupil at Wolverley CE Secondary School, that she had been having a relationship with her karate instructor.

The instructor, Jaspal Riat, formerly of Denewood Avenue, Handsworth, was aged 49 when he was jailed for eight years - six months after Dana’s death - for sexually abusing her.

Nageena Khalique, representing Dana’s own family, questioned Mr McCaughley about a conversation with Miss Tune, who was the latest in a line of council social workers who had been involved in the teenager’s care.

Miss Khalique said Miss Tune had made the comment: “Dana liked to create a drama and getting everybody running around her.”

Miss Khalique added that, in a conversation with Mr McCaughley on January 4, 2011, at a time when Dana was saying she wanted to leave the foster home, Miss Tune had said it was "attention seeking and Dana just trying to bring people into her conflict"

Mr McCaughley, who said he did not agree with that, replied: “I think Dana just needed time out.”

He agreed, however, with Bernard Thorogood, representing the county council, that social workers had to hold an "incredibly difficult balance" about someone who needed help but could be an attention seeker.

Later, former county council social worker team leader Pam Pegg told the inquest that Dana had been cared for by a number of social workers and there were gaps when nobody was allocated to her due to staff absences and changes.

She added there had been "pressure" on the teams.

Eventually senior managers set up a new "pod" specifically to handle "looked-after" children.

The inquest continues.

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