The mother and stepfather of a schoolgirl found hanged after a family argument have told an inquest she lied about “humiliating” punishments she claimed to have been given.
Amber Peat’s body was found three days after she went missing from her home following a row with her mother over household chores.
Nottingham Coroner’s Court heard that the 13-year-old had told teachers she had to “scrub the floor” until 1.30am and that her stepfather had forced her to wear a “ridiculous” outfit to school.
Amber’s mother Kelly Peat and stepfather Danny Peat insisted the accusations were lies.
Giving evidence on Monday, Mrs Peat admitted she should have rung the police sooner when she left her home in Bosworth Street, Mansfield, at around 5.10pm on May 30 2015.
Despite the youngster having a history of running away, Mrs Peat only called police to report her missing nearly eight hours later at 12.56am on May 31.
Mr and Mrs Peat conceded that neither was particularly worried when Amber left the house because they believed she was “close by” and they expected her to return.
The couple decided to go shopping, have the family car washed and have tea during the time the youngster was missing.
Although up to 400 police staff were involved in the search for Amber, her body was only recovered on June 2.
Asked by assistant coroner Laurinda Bower why he found disciplining Amber difficult, Mr Peat said: “The accusations and the attention-seeking.”
Ms Bower said: “What you are saying is that Amber is lying about you,” to which Mr Peat said: “Yes.”
He added: “It wasn’t just about me, ma’am. There were other accusations about a teacher, there were accusations about her biological father, saying that he had hit her – so yes, she did say lies.”
Asked why she may have made up stories, Mr Peat said: “I don’t know, ma’am. I would ask her why and she would say, ‘I don’t know’.”
Asked why he and Mrs Peat had waited so long to call the police, he said: “There were several reasons. We still expected her to turn up.
“There was a party at the end of the road and both Kelly and I thought we saw Amber down the road.
“I just thought she was close by, hiding and watching. We just expected her to walk back up.
“What we said was the truth, ma’am, and it wasn’t until that time that we were all really worried and called the police.”
Amber’s biological father Adrian Cook asked Mr Peat if he considered going to Tesco and having his car washed when his stepdaughter was missing as “neglecting her well-being”, to which he replied: “No.”
Asked whether he was lying about events leading up to Amber’s death, given his history of compulsive lying, Mr Peat said: “No, I haven’t.”
Earlier, Mrs Peat told the inquest her partner and the schoolgirl would sometimes “butt heads” over chores.
Mrs Peat said: “He would say ‘do this’ and she would say ‘no’ – and Danny got to the point where he wasn’t getting anywhere and he would say ‘you talk to her’.”
Ms Bower said: “You were advised while you were living in Derbyshire that if Amber goes missing you should contact police.
“On reflection, that was too long, wasn’t it, before calling the police?” to which Amber’s mother replied: “Yes.”
Mrs Peat also said Amber had not run away while Mr Peat had been serving time in prison for tax fraud.
The inquest continues.