Fair Point: They all failed Laura

Laura Wilson
Laura Wilson
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It’s pretty down by the canal in not so picturesque Holmes.

So tranquil a scene is it, it’s hard to believe what happened to a young Rotherham girl in those calm waters 18 months ago.

Unsuspecting Laura Wilson was brought to this spot by someone she wanted a committed relationship with. He repaid her love by stabbing her repeatedly in the head then dumping her in the canal to drown.

She was only 17 and her baby daughter was just four months old. But Ashtiaq Asghar, also 17, wanted her gone.

He killed the teenager just days after she decided to tell his family that they were having an affair - and reveal to the family of his married best friend that she had given birth to his child. She had tired of being the dirty secret of the two Asian men.

Last winter, there was justice for Laura. Sheffield Crown Court judge Lord Justice Davis said he believed Asghar treated white girls as “sexual targets” and not like human beings as he sentenced him a to 17 years in prison.

But how did this girl fall into a situation so exploitative and eventually so dangerous that she lost her life?

It didn’t start at that canal-side; it started years before.

By the time she was 11 Laura had been identified as a child at risk and was put on the Child Protection Register. She was truanting and wayward.

Some time later, police probing allegations of grooming and sexual exploitation of girls aged 13 to 16 in the area of Rotherham where she lived believed she was amongst girls being prepared for abuse by older men.

The girls, Laura included, refused to help police so no action was taken.

Just a few years later, so low was her sense of self-worth she was in a sexual relationship with a boy she thought was her first love, but who in reality saw her as an embarrassment and an inconvenience - and disposed of her like she was trash.

Laura died because no one fought hard enough to save her. A report this week stated that the 15 agencies who were supposed to have looked out for her failed her.

She slipped through the social services and police net. No one saw her as ‘the highly vulnerable child she was’.

It was like she was ‘invisible.’

In their defence, the authorities said Laura was “difficult” and “unco-operative”; but what troubled adolescent isn’t going to be?

They have apologised, but what comfort is that to her motherless baby.

Grooming is becoming a big problem; what reassurance is there that countless other young girls being lured into sex by people who have nothing but contempt for them will be saved?