Page last updated at 17:52 GMT, Monday, 28 September 2009 18:52 UK

'Kids are just ruling this road'

Bardon Road

By Claire Marshall
Midlands correspondent, BBC News

An inquest jury has returned a verdict of suicide on Fiona Pilkington and unlawful killing on her 18-year-old daughter Francecca. The jury said the response of the police and two local councils had also contributed to their deaths.

It was in October 2007 that Fiona Pilkington - driven to despair by the constant harassment of her and her two disabled children by a teenage gang - set fire to her car, killing herself and her 18-year-old daughter Francecca.

Bardon Road in Barwell, Leicestershire, seems a pleasant enough place when you walk down it during the daytime.

The semi-detached houses are mostly well-maintained, many have well-trimmed hedges and neat gardens. A polite man gives you change in the corner shop, the odd police officer glides by on a bicycle.

But come here at night and it's a very different place.

There are few street lights; the only illumination comes from the flickering glow of televisions in front rooms. Curtains twitch as people peer out to see who may be passing.

By 9pm, a gang of children has appeared. There are 10 or 11 of them, and they are young, aged from eight to 17.

59 Bardon Road
Fiona Pilkington lived in the road with her son and daughter

One rides a BMX, his bare tattooed chest on proud display. Others strut past, dressed all in black, hoodies hiding everything but their eyes. They swear and they swagger - they are confident, cocky, and in control.

It's difficult to find people who want to talk about what went on in Bardon Road and the events that led to Fiona Pilkington killing herself and her daughter Frankie.

The reason is that the problem still exists and many of Ms Pilkington's old neighbours are simply too scared to speak out.

One woman approached by the BBC nodded in the direction of number 59, where Fiona, her daughter and son, Anthony, used to live, and blamed it on the gang.

"As far as I'm concerned," she said. "They killed her. They drove her to it. And they still walk around and they don't show no remorse. They don't care. They like the attention."

We asked if we could record her interview.

Her eyes filled with fear, and then shone with tears. "What?" she whispered, looking up and down the street, "And get a brick through my window? And my husband works nights..."

Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council acknowledges the continuing problem. In 2007 the council spoke to four families about their children, but one family refused to meet them and continued to cause trouble.

"Throughout this tragic case this family still continue to cause trouble to this day," community safety manager Ron Grantham told the inquest into Fiona and Frankies' deaths.

"One of the particular offenders of anti-social behaviour continued to cause problems, it's not just one, it's members of the family."

He conceded the case had not "put confidence" in what the police and council do, but said they had introduced "an awful lot of ways to stop anti-social behaviour".

Selling house

A few doors away, another woman glanced around nervously before talking to us.

She had been burgled twice in six months and so had her neighbour, she said.

She described how the gang would kick a football against her car at night. If she or her husband tried to tell them to stop, they would laugh and swear at them and carry on.

"It's a nightmare," she told us. "You go to work in the morning and you're worried what you'll come home to."

She doesn't go out by herself at night any more. They have been trying to sell the house, but no-one wants to live there.

She told us where the local head of the Neighbourhood Watch lived. But when we knocked on her door, we were told that she had recently resigned.

Other people on the street talked about their cars being scratched, and rocks being thrown at windows.

I'm still in shock. I saw them, a bunch of them, pushing on her door
Donna Glover

They all point the finger at one particular family as the source of most of the trouble, but no-one will name names.

Eventually we found Donna Glover, 39, someone who wasn't intimidated by the gang.

Jutting her chin forward she said: "I come from Newport. This is small fry."

But her face tightened when asked about Fiona Pilkington.

"I'm still in shock," she said. "I saw them, a bunch of them, pushing on her door. They were trying to get into her house. When I think back... when I think that it was that night... to take your own life that way you've got to be desperate."

Folding her arms, Ms Glover talked about the "group of thugs" on the street.

"Kids are just ruling this road and the adults are just doing nothing about it...

"A lot of girls as well, they tend to behave worse than the lads.

"And they've got this look on them where 'You can't touch me... because of all these politics and rules you can't touch me, we can do what we want.' But if I were their parent I would certainly do something."

Ms Glover was clear about what needs to be done. She said that even as a single mother, she was able to bring her own son up to be respectful.

"Years ago even if you were kids, you paid the price for something... I think they need to change the laws.

"I mean some of these kids, they'll see a policeman up and down here and they just laugh. They need to change the laws, maybe where the parents are accountable."

Chris Tew, former Assistant Chief Constable of Lincolnshire, admitted that many of Mrs Pilkington's calls to police weren't linked and were regarded as anti-social behaviour.

Now abuse based on disability is included in hate crimes which are flagged above other anti-social crime.

"Things have moved on quite considerably - there would be a totally different response today than there was then," he told the inquest.

Print Sponsor

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2020 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific