Family suffered years of abuse before car fire deaths


A mother killed herself and her disabled daughter after her family were the victims of years of disablist abuse and harassment, an inquest has heard.

Fiona Pilkington drove to a layby in Leicestershire in October 2007 and set fire to her car with herself and her daughter, Francecca, inside it.

The inquest heard how the family, from Barwell, Leicestershire, had suffered years of abuse aimed at Francecca, who had learning difficulties, and her brother, who has dyslexia.

But despite a string of calls to Leicestershire police over seven years, the abuse by a gang of youths was not categorised as a disability hate crime. Instead, the force logged the calls as anti-social behaviour.

The inquest was due to end on 24 September.

Meanwhile, the anti-hate crime charity Stop Hate UK has launched a campaign aimed at raising awareness of hate crimes targeted at people with mental health conditions.

The charity said research had shown that three-quarters of people with mental health conditions were affected by hate crime, and most of it was not reported to the police.

Stop Hate UK said it wanted to encourage reporting of mental health hate crime, raise awareness of victims’ rights and provide support.

Rose Simkins, chief executive of Stop Hate UK, said: “People often aren’t aware that they have experienced a hate crime, or that they can report it.

“This campaign is to inform and encourage people to report such incidents.”

Mental health service-users have helped Stop Hate UK develop a poster and leaflet to raise awareness.

A free 24-hour helpline, the Stop Hate Line (tel: 0800 138 1625), provides a confidential alternative to reporting directly to the police.

Witnesses can report any kind of hate crime, even if they do not have full details or were not the victim themselves. The line also provides details of how victims can secure support.

24 September 2009