A Croydon stepmum has paid tribute to her “clever and amazing” teenage step daughter after she was found hanged in a children’s care home.
Chloe ‘Ash’ Bannister, 16, was found dead at a specialist children’s home in Leicester on August 7.
Stepmum Rebecca, 34, spoke to My London and gave a heartbreaking tribute in which she detailed the special relationship she had while the family lived in South London.
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She came into Chloe’s life at six and, following a troubled childhood in Croydon, was able to connect to her on a level where others had failed.
Mrs Bannister said: “I spoke to her the night she died, She messaged me to say ‘if I die don’t cry’.
(Image: Rebecca Bannister)
“She always connected really well with me. I could always get her to do something and she got along really well with me. When I didn’t have children, I found looking after her very easy.
“The death of her grandfather had a big impact. They were really close. I had my baby at the same hospital her grandfather died, so she was there thinking she was going to lose her brother at the same place she lost her grandad.
“She would tell me things she wouldn’t tell other people. I could always solve the problems no one else could solve. I could find useful ways to get her to talk.
“She was very clever, cunning and she always tried. She always had a plan or a way round something. We always had such a laugh together. I want her to be remembered by being so clever. She would always leave you amazed. She just needed the right support to get her through.”
Chloe was moved into care for her own safety up to a children’s home in Leicester aged 12.
(Image: Rebecca Bannister)
It was hoped that the move out of Croydon would provide a fresh start and initially Chloe was positive about her time away.
However, after a turbulent four years, she died at The Laurels, an accommodation for children assessed as “presenting, emotional, behavioural or educational difficulties”, on August 7.
An inquest into the death, which will assess the care received prior to her death, was opened at Leicester City and South Leicestershire Coroner’s Court on August 24.
The inquest was adjourned to a date to be confirmed.
The family have since moved to Wales, but it was Croydon where they hold special memories together.
Mrs Bannister, who is married to Chloe’s biological father Gary, also recalled the horrific moment she was informed of her beloved step daughter’s tragic death.
She added: “We were out shopping and were informed a police officer had knocked on our door saying he needed to speak to us. We rang him and were told he needed to give me some news.
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“I said I had children and there were too many distractions, so we met up with him at a McDonald’s. We were trying to work out what had happened on the way. You had that feeling that someone had died.
“We were questioning it. It just got to me because I had spoken to her that night. It would have been just after then.”
My London contacted United Children’s Services on two occasions for a statement, but it said it would not be commenting on the death.