A mum broke down in tears as she recalled the last time she saw her daughter alive before she was found dead in a woodland area of Lancashire.
Maziellie MacKenzie, known as Mazie, had been taken into care in 2016 after she developed behavioural and emotional problems.
She spent time in three different foster homes, in Barrow-and-Furness and Dalton-in-Furness, before moving into a children’s home and latterly, in May 2018, to a specialist residential home in Yorkshire for victims of child sexual exploitation.
After a series of suicide attempts Mazie was transferred to The Cove, an inpatient mental health unit in Morecambe, at the end of May 2018. She went missing from the unit and was found dead in woodland near Heysham on June 23 at the age of 14.
Speaking at an inquest into Mazie’s death mum Wendy MacKenzie described her daughter as “my little smiler”.
“I loved being Mazie’s mum; I still am,” Miss MacKenzie said.
“When she was at Barrow Island Primary School she started to play guitar, she made a lot of progress and she loved football,” Miss MacKenzie said.
The inquest, at Accrington Town Hall, heard Mazie’s dad’s name was not recorded on her birth certificate but when she was young, Miss MacKenzie said her ex, Dan Swedder, “turned up at the back yard, picked Mazie up and said ‘your dad’s come to see you’.”
When Mazie was 14 when a DNA test was carried out which revealed her father was a man called Shane Greenhow.
“I thought she hadn’t seen Dan for four years; I thought he’d done the decent thing and stayed away,” Mazie’s mum said.
However, she said that Mazie had said she had been seeing him when she was around 12 years old.
Miss MacKenzie told the inquest that Dan had persuaded her to tell doctors she was on heroin in order to get a prescription for methadone, which he then took from her.
“I didn’t really need to be on it, it was Dan’s idea for me to get it so he could have it,” she added.
Mazie’s behaviour and emotional well-being began to deteriorate and in May 2016 she was placed with a foster family in Barrow.
“The social worker came to see us at home and she had to run out of the house; Mazie was kicking tables and chairs, punching the wall and was really angry,” Miss MacKenzie added.
Assistant Coroner Phil Holden said that placement “broke down” after three months and she moved to a new foster home in Dalton. Seven months later she was moved to a new foster home in Barrow before moving into a children’s home in Barrow, in July 2017.
“I found out she was in hospital after taking some pills and that was the first time I found out she had done anything like that,” Miss MacKenzie said.
“It was a cry for help. She obviously needed her mum.”
At around this time Miss MacKenzie told her then partner, Gary, to leave so she could focus on Mazie.
In May 2018, after disclosing to Cumbria Police that she had been the victim of child sexual exploitation, Mazie moved into a specialist residential home in Yorkshire for girls who have been the victim of child sexual exploitation.
Cumbria Constabulary have confirmed independently that no arrests were made in relation to the allegations.
Mazie’s mum was able to have contact with her during this time and recalled one visit, in Skipton, where Mazie was waiting to greet her with a bunch of tulips.
“Another time we went to a trampolining place; I remember Mazie looking at me and she was just smiling and smiling,” Miss MacKenzie said as she broke down in tears.
“She was lovely. She had a heart of gold and she didn’t like seeing other people upset.”
“That was the last time I saw her. I’d had a horrible gut feeling for weeks and weeks.”
When Mazie moved to Yorkshire she was one of just two residents at the unit and quickly became close friends with the other girl.
Claire Sutcliffe was the deputy manager at the home when Mazie was a resident between March 2018 and May 2018.
Giving evidence to the inquest Miss Sutcliffe began to cry as she described Mazie as “just a really lovely girl”.
“She loved swimming, days out, bowling, going to the cinema and she wrote her own music,” Miss Sutcliffe said.
The inquest heard Mazie became upset on May 14 following a phone call with her mum.
“Her mum was in the pub and Mazie could hear her mum’s ex Gary in the background and Mazie couldn’t believe she had got back with him,” Miss Sutcliffe said.
“She just wanted her mum to be ok.”
The following day Mazie was admitted to York Hospital after an incident of attempted suicide.
“It was a real shock,” Miss Sutcliffe said. “She was so calm about it.”
Mazie was discharged from hospital without receiving a mental health assessment.
“Was that a concern for you?” the coroner asked Miss Sutcliffe.
“Massively,” Miss Sutcliffe replied.
“The doctor just said she physically seems fine and because there was already a referral into the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) to wait for that. He said that in front of Mazie so we couldn’t challenge it.”
The inquest heard there was a two-year waiting list for CAMHS referrals at the time.
At this point Miss Sutcliffe said that Yorkshire home staff realised that Mazie “just wanted to die” and they didn’t feel able to keep her safe.
“She had taken bobbles, shoelaces, socks out of rooms… it felt like it wasn’t possible for us to keep her safe as much as we wanted her to come home with us.”
The next day, on May 16, staff at the home called 999 and Mazie was taken to Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.
“A member of staff stayed with her 24/7 at Wakefield because we didn’t want her to feel abandoned,” Miss Sutcliffe added.
“She felt safer in hospital but she knew there were other children who needed to be in hospital and she didn’t want to take up a bed.
“She kept saying she wanted to come back to (the home) and we knew that was because she wanted to end her life.”
On May 17 Mazie was seen by paediatric consultant Dr Fraser Scott and a full mental health assessment was carried out. Dr Scott said this was normal practice and he did not know why the same had not been done the day before at York Hospital.
“Given how distressed she was and how serious the attempts were; there was a feeling of escalation, anyone seeing her in A&E would have been profoundly concerned,” Dr Scott added.
“One of the reasons for the delay in Mazie’s case (in finding an appropriate residential placement) is that once it was decided she needed a Tier 4 bed because there are so few of those it is not unusual to wait weeks to get a place so often then the person is marooned on the children’s ward while they wait for a bed to become available.”
Mazie was then transferred to The Cove in Morecambe, a Tier 4 in-patient mental health unit for children, on May 29 in 2018. A Tier 4 in-patient is an adolescent requiring specialist services.
Staff continued to keep in touch with Mazie during this time and noted with growing concern that her mental health was worsening.
Miss Barrett, a legal advocate representing Mazie’s mother, asked Miss Sutcliffe: “Towards the end of her time in The Cove what degree of risk was there?”
“She required constant observation,” Miss Sutcliffe said.
“She was clearly deteriorating.”
After concluding her evidence Miss Sutcliffe was thanked by Mazie’s mum for “everything you did for her” while the coroner noted the Yorkshire home staff had gone “above and beyond” for Mazie.
The coroner has previously ruled this week’s hearing, due to resume tomorrow and conclude on Thursday, will be what is known as an Article 2 inquest. Such inquests take place when a death occurs in custody or if there is a belief that the state has failed to take steps to protect an individual.
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