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UNMASKED: YOBS WHO DROVE MUM AND GIRL TO DEATH; Family's 10yr abuse.

Byline: ROD CHAYTOR

A FAMILY who tormented tragic suicide mum Fiona Pilkington and daughter Francecca can be revealed for the first time today.

Odd job man Steven Simmons, 43, his wife, Susanne, 44, and their four sons, live just 14 doors from the former home of the mum and her disabled daughter, who were subjected to a decade of harassment and abuse.

An inquest heard how the they died in a fireball when Fiona, 38, set fire to her Maestro in a layby in 2007, no longer able to cope.

Mr Simmons defended his children yesterday, insisting: "It wasn't their fault. It was just messing about."

After a six-day inquest, a jury ruled that cops and local councils failed the mother and daughter and contributed to their deaths.

Although the Simmons family were never referred to by name during the double inquest, it was claimed they were the ringleaders of the abuse.

And their names appear on a county injunction taken out against them a week after Fiona and Frankie's death.

Yesterday Mr Simmons refused to answer the door at the family's rundown 30s semi at Bardon Road, Barwell, Leics. Through a window, he said of his children: "Obviously, they are not to blame for what happened.

"The police have sorted it now.

Unless you come in here with pounds 15,000 you're not getting a story." The family have four sons - Ross, now 20, Alex, 16, Mitchell, 15, and Charlie, 12.

The older boys were once best friends with Fiona's vulnerable younger child, Anthony Hardwick, 19, but they fell out when he was eight. The Simmons boys are then said to have begun a hate campaign against Anthony, his sister and Fiona, which was taken up by eight youths aged nine to 16 from five families. Once, a youth shouted at their house: "We can do anything we like and you can't do anything about it." The tormentors broke windows and would often pelt the house with eggs.

One neighbour said: "The place is basically a doss house for kids."

Hinckley and Bosworth council's Ron Grantham revealed five families were sent warning letters and finally began legal moves for an Anti-Social Behaviour Injunction the day before Fiona torched her car. But Coroner Olivia Davison was scathing in her criticism of authorities.

She asked retired assistant chief constable Chris Tew why "common sense and old-fashioned policing" had not saved them pair.

She demanded: "Would somebody not have thought of arresting someone and prosecuting them, rather than drawing up a letter they will probably ignore?" Home Secretary Alan Johnson said police and councils had "some hard lessons" to learn. He said: "I expect every force to treat allegations of intimidation seriously." Police and council chiefs said sorry to Fiona and Frankie's family.

But Pam and David Cassell, Fiona's parents and Frankie's grandparents said: "If this helps just one family their deaths would not have been in vain."

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said: "This case has horrified the nation. In Britain, troublemakers just seem to get away with it."

ROSS SIMMONS ELDEST OF THE SONS Oldest boys were once pals with Fiona's son but fell out and abuse started

ALEX SIMMONS SECOND ELDEST Simmons boys are said to have launched a vendetta against family

THE FATHER THE ODD JOB MAN "Obviously, the kids are not to blame for what happened."

CAPTION(S):

TRADEGY Francecca suffered abuse PAIN Fiona took their lives in her car
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 29, 2009
Words:573
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