Tragic karate teen 'seemed to think she was in soap romance'

Kidderminster Shuttle: FOUND HANGED: Dana Baker. FOUND HANGED: Dana Baker.

TRAGIC Kidderminster teenager Dana Baker shouted out in a school English lesson that she was having a relationship with her karate instructor two years before being found hanged from a tree near a road island, an inquest heard today.

But her deputy headteacher at Wolverley CE Secondary School told the hearing that she had no response from social services or police for several days after reporting her concerns on April 27, 2009.

An earlier investigation, after Dana first disclosed her affair with the karate instructor to school nurses in December, 2008, had resulted in no further action, said the deputy head, Vicki Blake.

On the same day that the bright student, then aged 14, shouted out about the relationship in class, school staff noticed self-harm marks on her arm, said Mrs Blake.

Dana was 16 when she was found hanged from a tree near the Worcester Road island in Kidderminster in March, 2011.

Her karate instructor, Jaspal Riat, then aged 49, formerly of Denewood Avenue, Handsworth, Birmingham, was jailed for eight years in September, 2011 for sexually abusing her.

Mrs Blake told the hearing at Stourport that, during a meeting with Dana and her parents soon after the teenager made her revelation in an English class, the GCSE student - who normally gained As and Bs and was "incredibly" bright, seemed to think she was in a "soap romance".

"She, on the one hand, wanted everybody to know about it and disclose it more publicly but then wanted to shut that and moved back to Dana. It was as though Dana wanted to step into the discovery role and then step out of it."

Mrs Blake also said there had not been much reaction from Dana's parents during the meeting, although she would have expected "shock, horror and disbelief".

Following the meeting, which Mrs Blake described as "long and difficult", Dana's mother made an appointment for the youngster with their GP and the deputy head reported the issue to child social workers and police.

But Mrs Blake said she heard nothing more from social services or police for some days, despite repeated calls.

She called police again on April 29, 2009, after hearing that Dana had revealed on facebook that she was still having a relationship with her karate instructor, that he was going to be arrested but they would run away together.

Mrs Blake said she did not see Dana again until May 5, when she came to school "clearly distressed", and the teenager accused her of "ruining her life by telling everybody."

On May 6, Dana's mother telephoned Mrs Blake to say the pupil was on her way to hospital after taking an overdose.

Mrs Blake was then told by Worcestershire County Council's safeguarding officer that a strategy meeting would be held on May 13.

Earlier, the inquest heard from school nurse Deborah Turley that Dana had gone for a pregnancy test with a sexual health nurse during a lunchtime "Time for You" session at Wolverley Secondary in December, 2008, when she had disclosed she was in a relationship with her karate instructor, who was aged 40-plus.

But when Miss Turley joined the sexual health nurse, Dana retracted what she had said and claimed she was in a relationship with an 18-year-old Sikh boy, who could not talk to his family about it. Miss Turley took Dana home and told her parents what had happened.

She said they seemed "distressed" and taken aback and could not believe what had been said.

She added that Dana's mother phoned the karate instructor and told him what had happened, although she did not detect any anger towards him.

Miss Turley agreed that, in hindsight, she should have intervened to stop the alleged perpetrator from being contacted.

She said that a strategy meeting with all the agencies involved was held on January 13, 2009, which recommended that police should institute a criminal record check on the instructor and a social worker should see Dana to see if she was retracting her story.

Mrs Blake told the inquest that she was told there was no further action following the strategy meeting.

The hearing continues.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree