Exclusive: Hartlepool teen killer's mother claims authorities could have prevented murder

We spoke exclusively to the mother of one of Angela Wrightson's teenage killers. Photo: ITV News Tyne Tees

The mother of a teenage girl convicted of the murder of Angela Wrightson in Hartlepool has told ITV News Tyne Tees that she believes social services failed her daughter - and what happened could have been prevented.

In an exclusive interview with our Social Affairs Correspondent Tom Sheldrick, she also offered an apology to Miss Wrightson's parents.

The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was just 13 when she and a 14-year-old girl, who was also in care, battered Angela to death in December 2014.

A number of reviews have started to find out if social services and other authorities missed opportunities to intervene.

Hartlepool Borough Council told us those reviews will consider the concerns raised by the younger girl's mother.

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The girls were 13 and 14 years old when they murdered Angela Wrightson, 39, in Hartlepool.

She was a vulnerable alcoholic who invited them into her home for company, and bought them alcohol and cigarettes.

The girls were both in care in Hartlepool - the younger in a foster home - but they had run away together 20 times in the previous month.

That night in December 2014, with no apparent motive, they used household objects to inflict more than 100 injuries to Angela's body, before leaving her for dead.

In April, both then aged 15, the girls were convicted of murder, and sentenced to 15 years detention. The judge ruled that their anonymity should be protected.

Angela Wrightson was found dead after an attack which lasted for five hours.

In an exclusive interview, the younger girl's mother says her daughter had a normal family life, and no diagnosed conditions that would explain her behaviour. She says she started getting into trouble, and going missing from home, after starting secondary school. She claims social services in Hartlepool did not take her daughter's case seriously enough.

I asked them to put my daughter in a safe place because she was running and missing from home all the time. I literally had to beg them for the foster placement.

We really wanted her our of the town, out of the bad company she was with, and her phone taken off her - because she was still doing the same, running away, when she was in there.

That's why I really wanted her in a secure place, where she knew if she'd done wrong, she wouldn't be able to run away from there, until she settled her behaviour down. I just wish they could have done more to help my daughter.

– Mother
The younger girl's mother spoke to our Social Affairs Correspondent Tom Sheldrick.

The mother refused to take responsibility, as a parent, for what her daughter did.

She said: "she makes her own choices in life. I tried my best. I couldn't be watching her 24 hours a day. I just feel like they didn't give me enough help."

CCTV footage shows the girls laughing as they leave Angela Wrightson's home, after leaving her for dead.

Questioned over whether the murder could have been prevented, she replied:

If they had placed her out of the town, out of the bad company she was getting involved with, yes. Because I told them I was worried something was going to happen to her, something seriously bad - or she was going to get hurt.

They said they couldn't because you had to have a court order to take them into one of them secure accommodations, and they couldn't do that, they said.

– Mother
The younger girl posted this image of Angela Wrightson on social media during their prolonged attack.

The younger girl's mother also said she could not understand how her daughter could act in such a brutal manner.

The mother said: "She was always a lovely girl. It's just, since she got older, listening to the wrong people. I don't know why this happened. She never actually had a fight or anything - never been violent."

She said it was "heartbreaking" to have "lost everything... my daughter, who I miss so much."

Cleveland Police launched a murder investigation after Angela's body was found in Hartlepool in December 2014.

The mother offered an apology to Angela Wrightson's parents:

I'd just like to say - I'm sorry this has happened to their daughter. I don't know why my daughter got involved. I keep asking myself why. I don't know why.

– Mother
Angela Wrightson seen buying cider and chocolate for the girls on the night she died.

Hartlepool Borough Council, which runs social services in the town, told ITV News Tyne Tees that the mother's concerns would be raised as part of major reviews underway to see if authorities missed opportunities to intervene.

Angela Wrightson’s death has touched the hearts of many people in the Hartlepool community and our thoughts remain with all who have been affected by this tragedy.

Independent multi-agency reviews are currently being undertaken following the murder of Angela Wrightson. These reviews are being led by Teeswide Safeguarding Adults Board and Hartlepool Safeguarding Children Board.

The Council, along with all other agencies involved in this case, is participating fully in this process which will involve national experts to help determine whether any lessons can be learnt. The mother who has spoken to ITV News Tyne Tees can be assured that her concerns will be raised as part of the review process.

It would not be appropriate for the Council to comment further on any aspect of the cases until the reviews are concluded.

– Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman

Tomorrow, we will focus on the pressures on social services around the region, with exclusive figures on the number of cases social workers are having to deal with.

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