Page last updated at 14:56 GMT, Tuesday, 22 September 2009 15:56 UK

Family's abusers 'still active'

Fiona Pilkington (l) and daughter Francesca Hardwick
A 16-strong gang persistently abused their neighbours

A family which terrorised a mother and her disabled daughter who were both found dead in a burning car is still a menace, an inquest has been told.

Fiona Pilkington, 38, from Barwell in Leicestershire, was in such despair at seeing her children being abused by the family that she set light to her car.

She and her daughter Francesca Hardwick, 18, died in October 2007.

The inquest has heard that police considered Ms Pilkington to have "overreacted" to the abuse.

The inquest at Loughborough Town Hall has been told how Ms Pilkington, her daughter and son Anthony, now 19, suffered years of abuse at the hands of a gang of youths, some of whose members were from the problem family.

Screaming abuse

The 16-strong gang would often pelt their house with flour, eggs and stones, while Anthony was attacked with an iron bar and locked in a shed at knifepoint.

The gang also put fireworks through the letterbox of the semi-detached 1930s council house and jumped on the hedges outside the front door, while screaming abuse as the family cowered inside.

Ms Pilkington was driven to such despair by the youths that she drove her car to a secluded lay-by near Earl Shilton and set it alight, the inquest heard.

Forensic examination tent at Earl Shilton
The bodies were found in the burning car nearly two years ago

Ron Grantham, community safety manager at Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, said they were still dealing with a problem family on the street where Ms Pilkington lived with her children.

He said that, despite being given an injunction allowing the local authority to arrest the parents if their children commit anti-social behaviour, the family was still a problem.

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

No-one was ever prosecuted while members of the gang have not been named in court.

The inquest heard that, on one occasion, the gang's leader shouted at the house: "We can do anything we like and you can't do anything about it."

The hearing continues.

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