Social worker shouted at Dana Baker on day she hanged herself inquest told

Social worker shouted at Dana Baker on day she hanged herself inquest told

Social worker shouted at Dana Baker on day she hanged herself inquest told

First published in News
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A SENIOR social worker shouted at 16-year-old Dana Baker in a "loud, angry and horrendous" telephone conversation on the day she hanged herself, a former colleague claimed at an inquest.

It was alleged that Liz Tune, team manager for Worcestershire social services, then based in Kidderminster, was telling Dana that she should not call the woman with whom she had been in foster care ‘mother’.

Dana’s real mother, Patricia Baker, sobbed and wiped tears from her eyes as former Worcestershire social services’ team manager Marrian Pattinson-Vaughan described overhearing the alleged phone call in their office, Elgar House in Kidderminster.

But doubts were cast upon the time and date of the conversation.

Miss Pattinson-Vaughan claimed it was dark, must have been after 5pm and she was ‘absolutely sure’ it was on March 3, 2011, the day Dana died.

Worcestershire Senior Coroner Geraint Williams, however, said Dana was ‘almost certainly dead by then’ and Bernard Thorogood, representing Worcestershire County Council, said sundown that night was not until 5.50pm.

Miss Pattinson-Vaughan outlined the conversation, alleging she heard Miss Tune saying: “No, listen to me, listen to me Dana’.

Miss Pattinson-Vaughan added: “I couldn’t hear Dana but I could hear Miss Tune, who was very agitated, very loud, very angry.

“There were references made to ‘you are not calling her mother – she is not your mother. That will stop’.

“It wasn’t a pleasant conversation.”

Miss Pattinson-Vaughan added that she had mouthed "oh my god" to another colleague and then Miss Tune replaced the receiver, commenting "along the lines of she’s a right madam, that Dana".

Miss Pattinson-Vaughan described the conversation as being "horrendous"and said she knew it was the day Dana "committed suicide" because her administrative assistant called her next day to tell her of the tragedy.

Pam Pegg, another social worker team manager, told the inquest earlier that, although she did not hear any detail of what was being said, she was aware that Liz had a "difficult" conversation with Dana, with raised voices – and she also maintained it was the day of the tragedy.

The inquest, at Stourport, has also heard that social workers took a "hysterical" 16-year-old Dana to Kidderminster Hospital amid threats that she would kill herself the night before she was found hanged after becoming distraught because her placement with the foster parents she called "mum and dad" was being ended.

She later self-harmed by cutting her forearms superficially while staying at the home of a family friend.

Her new social worker, Adam Benkali, spent an hour with her at the family friend’s home next morning – but later that day, March 3 2011, Dana was found hanging from a tree near the Worcester Road island in Kidderminster.

Mr Benkali was questioned by Peter Smith, representing the Child Care Bureau, which had placed Dana in the foster home, about whether social services should have stayed with her that day.

He replied: “It’s not possible for a social services person to stay with someone all day.”

He added that he knew Dana was with the family friend, he believed someone from social services would be visiting later in the day to deliver her belongings and he knew Miss Tune was trying to contact the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

Mr Benkali and Miss Tune took Dana to Kidderminster Hospital "hysterical – almost unable to talk or function" after her pleas to her foster carers to have her back were refused.

He agreed with Nageena Khalique, representing Dana’s parents, Patricia and Trevor,that the teenager had been talking about killing herself as they travelled to hospital.

But, as she was called in to see the GP at the hospital, Dana's demeanour changed and she started smiling and joking.

GP Dr Shabnam Taj told the inquest that, although tearful, Dana had seemed calm and told her she had no intention of harming herself.

Dana refused to see a psychiatrist and Dr Taj said she believed she was "not high risk", although she needed further assessment.

But the GP said that she had not been told that Dana had previously taken an overdose, had been in a psychiatric unit and had threatened to hang herself at her foster carer’s home in January.

The hearing continues.

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