Dana Baker - senior teacher told of previous attempted hanging

Kidderminster Shuttle: Dana Baker - senior teacher told of previous attempted hanging Dana Baker - senior teacher told of previous attempted hanging

A senior teacher was told of an attempted hanging by teenager Dana Baker just over two weeks before she was found dead near a Kidderminster road island, an inquest heard.

But Christopher Parry, director of learning at Stourport High School, where 16-year-old Dana was in the sixth form, admitted that he did not talk to a social worker about it until more than a week later.

Dana, who was in foster care after being abused by her karate instructor, taking a drug overdose and receiving care in a psychiatric unit, was found hanging from a tree near the Worcester Road island in Kidderminster on March 3 2011.

Mr Parry said that he had an ‘emotional’ phone call at 6pm on February 17 2011 from Dana’s foster carer, who had told him that the teenager had recently tried to hang herself.

The foster carer also said that Dana was agitated because she felt ‘unwelcome’ in her history lessons.

Questioned by Nageena Khalique, representing Dana’s family, about why he had not contacted social services after the call, Mr Parry said he believed the foster carer had told him she had contacted social and mental health services.

Mr Parry said Dana had come into school the day after the phone call ‘enthusiastic and positive’, there was no physical evidence of her trying to hang herself and, at the time, he felt there was no need to take action.

“On talking to her she was in no different a mood than she would normally be and was very positive,” he said.

“At that point I didn’t do anything – but maybe I should have done.”

Mr Parry said that on February 28 Dana was supposed to come to see him but he found she had left the school with someone from the fostering service.

He left a message for her social worker, who called him the following day.

The social worker’s main concern was that Dana was concerned that her history teacher was ‘blanking her’.

Dana had moved to Stourport High’s sixth form in September 2010 from Bishop Perowne School in Worcester.

But Mr Parry said that, although he was aware that Dana was vulnerable, in care and involved in a sexual abuse court case, Stourport High had not been given information about her risk of self harm or suicide.

When asked by Worcestershire Coroner Geraint Williams if he should have made earlier enquiries, Mr Parry replied: “Possibly so.

“Other people in other agencies new far more than I did but they didn’t contact me.”

Earlier the inquest heard from Jane Price, formerly community leader at Bishop Perowne School and now assistant head teacher, that staff had been made aware of Dana’s previous drug overdose before she started as a pupil in September 2009.

The school also knew that she had a history of self harm and had been in the Darwin Centre psychiatric unit at Stoke-on-Trent.

The inquest heard that a risk assessment of her was carried out by the school only after she cut the outside of her forearm, near her wrists, in the school toilets.

The hearing continues.

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