Page last updated at 16:08 GMT, Thursday, 24 September 2009 17:08 UK

Gang torment woman 'sat in dark'

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

A woman who died inside her burning car with her disabled daughter would sit in the dark listening to the gang that tormented them, an inquest heard.

Fiona Pilkington, 38, of Barwell, Leicestershire, set fire to her car as she and 18-year-old Francesca Hardwick sat inside in October 2007.

The single mother detailed her ordeal in a diary, found after her death.

One entry read:"Drew the curtains and sat in the dark until 2.30am, stressed out."

'No concerns'

Despite police requests, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council had no record of the problems, the hearing was told.

Council officer Tim Butterworth, who was responsible for dealing with anti-social behaviour, said he had "no concerns" with the situation.

Anthony Hardwick leaving Loughborough Town Hall
The diary said Anthony Hardwick was stressed by the noise from the gang

The inquest, at Loughborough Town Hall, heard Ms Pilkington and her daughter, known as Frankie, suffered more than 10 years of abuse from the gang at their home in Bardon Road.

In 2007, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council gave her a spreadsheet on which she could detail the abuse.

In the entry for 10 May 2007, she said her son Anthony - now 19 - was pacing up and down the stairs of their home because he was stressed out by the noise from the youths outside.

Another entry, dated two days later, she detailed: "I drew the curtains and sat in the dark until 2.30am, stressed out."

The diary was never handed to the council by Ms Pilkington and only came to light after her home was searched following the deaths of her and her daughter.

Campaign of bullying

A day after the night-time ordeal, she wrote: "I am cheesed off and fed up. Why can't they just walk past without doing anything? Why don't they walk on the other side of the street?"

Ms Pilkington's last entry on 2 June 2 2007, said: "They went to number 57, lit a fag and then tried to set fire to fences between the houses."

Reading the entries, Mr Butterworth was visibly perspiring.

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

He said the council was still trying to deal with a family causing trouble on the street.

The inquest heard that despite requests from Leicestershire Police to Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, the local authority was not aware the family were subjected to a campaign of bullying.

Mr Butterworth said: "I was unaware that the family had any difficulties at all. I was dealing with an incident of stone-throwing in isolation."

To this, coroner Olivia Davison put it to him: "Does it not concern you as to why this is occurring to the family?"

Mr Butterworth replied: "No, I had no concerns with the family's situation."

Earlier Ms Davison, assistant deputy coroner for Leicestershire and Rutland, asked whether Mr Butterworth remembered a meeting with a police officer.

She said: "The police officer wanted an anti-social behaviour order and as the best course of action to issue an anti-social behaviour warning.

"He appears to want action from the council and he appears to want you to take action. Do you remember this?"

Mr Butterworth replied: "I don't think we have that statement anywhere."

The inquest also heard the council failed to keep records going back further than two years.

The inquest continues.



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SEE ALSO
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Murder mother's abuse 'ignored'
18 Sep 09 |  Leicestershire
Car death pair 'abused for years'
17 Sep 09 |  Leicestershire

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