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Further revelations about troubled karate teen's life at inquest
Updated 2:50pm Monday 12th May 2014 in News
FURTHER revelations have been made about the traumatic life of sex abuse victim Dana Baker in the run-up to her death by hanging - with claims that she was forced to deal drugs while in foster care and had a relationship with a second man.
But a member of staff from a foster care agency told the Stourport inquest into the death of 16-year-old Dana that she believed the level of social work support the youngster had received from Worcestershire County Council was "very low".
Clare Baxendale, social worker to the foster parents caring for Dana after she took an overdose amid the disclosure in 2009 of a relationship with her karate instructor, said she believed she had been doing things that should have been taken on by the teenager’s own council social worker.
“The level of social work support that Dana was getting was very low,” she told Senior Worcestershire Coroner Geraint Williams on the fifth day of the inquest.
“I guess it’s quite easy to get into a situation where, if something needs doing, then you do that because you want to do a good job.
“There were some times where the social worker was happy for me to take up some of that role.”
Among the issues she had raised with social services involved an adult man getting involved with Dana.
Miss Baxendale, who worked for the Child Care Bureau foster agency, said she was insisting that a multi-agency review should be called to discuss the youngster’s needs.
She said she struggled to get the strategy meeting to take place and then never received any minutes from it.
Miss Baxendale had prepared a risk assessment on Dana but said she did not know if the council social workers had also done one.
She added that she had raised her concerns about a "lack of social worker input" with county council social services managers.
The inquest also heard from Billy-Ann Hambleton, then a community psychiatric nurse for South Worcestershire Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, who gave therapy for post traumatic stress to Dana during 2010.
She said that she had a lot of contact with Miss Baxendale but "very little" from Dana’s social worker, with messages left for her going unanswered."
Miss Hambleton said Dana had told her that, in a previous foster home, she and a "little boy" in care in the same place had been made to sell drugs by older children of the foster family. The revelation led to Dana being placed with new foster parents.
Dana was found hanged from a tree near the Worcester Road island in Kidderminster in March, 2011.
Her karate instructor, Jaspal Riat, then aged 49 and formerly of Denewood Avenue, Handsworth, Birmingham, was jailed for eight years in September, 2011 for sexually abusing her.
But Miss Hambleton told the inquest that, in April, 2010 there had also been a question about Dana having a relationship with another adult man and her then foster carer had spoken to police about it.
The inquest, expected to last for 12 days, continues.