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US News The boy lost to county lines drug dealing: Despairing parents of 17-year-old reached out to schools, youth workers and police... yet still he fell in with the wrong crowd - and it ended in a life sentence for him and his family

10:00  06 november  2019
10:00  06 november  2019 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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The boy lost to county lines drug dealing : Despairing parents of 17 - year - old reached out to schools , youth workers and police yet still he Yet just a few weeks after this picture was taken, in September 2015, Kieran began a terrible descent into the deadly world of county lines drug gangs.

Is your child hanging out with the wrong crowd ? Below are several ways to deal with the problem of the “ wrong crowd ”: Try to Avoid Repeated Criticisms of Their Friends. I have 16yr old daughter but there is a 17 yr old boy who we were warned off because he has a bad name for trouble with cops

He began selling drugs at  a council estate during his lunch hour at school at age 13. Pictured: Kieran aged 13 in Jamaica with mother Andrea © Associated Newspapers Limited He began selling drugs at a council estate during his lunch hour at school at age 13. Pictured: Kieran aged 13 in Jamaica with mother Andrea

Sons may shun maternal cuddles as they approach their teenage years but Kieran Hayward was an exception.

His deep emotional bond with his mother Andrea scarcely weakened – despite his increasingly gangly frame and growing independence.

'Kieran was never embarrassed, even when he was older, to hug or kiss me in front of his friends,' said Mrs Hayward, 50.

A quick glance around the family home reveals just how close Kieran is to his parents – one photo shows a beaming 13-year-old being embraced by his mother on a holiday to Jamaica.

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Yet just a few weeks after this picture was taken, in September 2015, Kieran began a terrible descent into the deadly world of county lines drug gangs.

And just before Christmas last year, Mrs Hayward and her lorry-driver husband Michael, 51, received a phone call from the police that shattered their happy family for ever.

Kieran had been arrested on suspicion of murder following an argument over drugs. Earlier this month he was jailed for life for killing Daniel Saunders, 32.

Today, the Haywards are sharing their story to alert other parents to the county lines menace. They warn against presuming that such devastation only affects other families.

Mrs Hayward also believes the authorities did little to help because her family seemed so 'normal'. The couple spent years battling to save their son from the clutches of drug dealers.

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a child swimming in a body of water: Kieran grew up at his family home in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Pictured: Kieran aged nine on a family holiday in Lanzarote © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Kieran grew up at his family home in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Pictured: Kieran aged nine on a family holiday in Lanzarote

They appealed in vain to his school, to police, to social services, to his GP, to youth workers – to anyone who might halt Kieran's destructive path.

'Everything I'd feared could happen came true,' said Mrs Hayward, who is a beautician. 'I'd warned Kieran if he carried on he would end up dead or killing someone, but he just said "You're watching too much TV, Mum".'

The phenomenon of county lines gangs has seen dealers in big cities recruit thousands of children to sell drugs in rural areas and affluent market towns such as Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, where the Haywards live.

They offer easy cash and designer goods to tempt children into couriering drugs, often using phone line ordering systems. Violence is common.

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The world of county lines gangs was completely alien to Kieran's parents. They raised their son and his older sister in a cul-de-sac – their welcoming £300,000 semi backed onto open countryside. Kieran was taught to be kind and caring to others and flourished into a confident teenager who was popular at school.

a person wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: He descended into a hardened drug dealer who used Premier Inn hotel rooms to sell crack cocaine after being forced out of secondary school. Pictured: Kieran aged 15 on a holiday in Jamaica © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited He descended into a hardened drug dealer who used Premier Inn hotel rooms to sell crack cocaine after being forced out of secondary school. Pictured: Kieran aged 15 on a holiday in Jamaica Yet the county lines kingpins found a way through. His secondary school, County Upper in Bury St Edmunds, was rating outstanding by inspectors but dealers were still able to recruit him there. In some ways, he was an easy target.

Burdened with undiagnosed dyslexia, school was difficult and lessons left him frustrated. He struggled to keep up and began to run into trouble. When his mother, a former nursery manager, sought help from teachers, she was told he was 'just lazy'.

Kieran and some friends began leaving school at lunchtime and teachers and police said they could not stop them.

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Mrs Hayward said: 'There were concerns about a change in his behaviour and his friendship groups at school. We started having regular meetings with his teachers. They said there were older people hanging around the school and some of the younger boys kept going out of school at lunchtime.

'They said they were struggling to keep them in and had reported it to police who said there was little they could do.'

When approached by the Mail, a spokesman for County Upper said: 'The Bury St Edmunds All Through Trust does not comment on matters which are confidential to individual students.'

Kieran had secretly joined the ranks of a major gang operating across Suffolk and Essex, and was selling drugs in a council estate across the road from school during his lunch hour. He was still just 13.

His parents, who knew nothing of his drug-dealing, thought discipline could bring him into line and signed him up for the Army cadets. 'But Kieran was quite dismissive,' Mrs Hayward said. 'He said we were worrying about nothing, he was just hanging around with mates.'

a person posing for the camera: Kieran Hayward, 17, was jailed for life last month for stabbing a drug addict to death with a knife in Ipswich © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Kieran Hayward, 17, was jailed for life last month for stabbing a drug addict to death with a knife in Ipswich The situation quickly deteriorated. Kieran was on cannabis at 14 and his appalled mother took him to the doctor for help.

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'Kieran admitted he was smoking recreationally but the GP wasn't concerned,' she said. 'He gave him leaflets about rehab but Kieran wasn't interested.'

He was now earning enough from dealing to buy designer clothes and trainers, telling his parents they were cheap fakes or hand-me-downs from friends. Kieran's increasingly disturbed parents decided to try for a fresh start in January 2017 by moving him to a village school seven miles away.

But on his first day at Thurston Community College, Kieran was expelled because he had been found with drugs and a fishing knife. His mother recalled: 'I got a call to say I needed to come in immediately as Kieran was trying to sell people cannabis.'

She contacted Suffolk County Council but was told she could not refer her own son for help. County Upper agreed to take Kieran back, initially with online tuition at home.

At first his new routine appeared to be working and Kieran said he wanted to go back to school. The head, however, refused. 'At that point he just gave up,' his mother said. 'It was heartbreaking. They totally abandoned him.

'Kieran said there was no way he was going to pass any exams, he wasn't going to be able to get any qualifications or a job.

'He had basically written himself off. I was very upset. We tried to build him up, telling him he could return to education in later life, but he went off the rails.'

Evidence of Kieran's criminal behaviour mounted. His mother found train tickets to London, drug paraphernalia and wads of cash. She said: 'That's when I was first really aware of county lines and thought he might be involved in it, especially after seeing a TV documentary.'

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Mrs Hayward relayed her fears to Kieran's youth worker, but things went from bad to worse.

'He started sneaking out in the middle of the night,' she said. 'We would notice footprints on the glass conservatory roof as he climbed out of his bedroom.

'We were hardly sleeping. I was asleep with one eye open, waiting to see if he had gone out and getting up in the night to check if he was there.'

Increasingly panic-stricken, they glued the window locks shut to stop him escaping, only for him to unpick them.

Social workers, his mother said, were hit and miss, becoming involved when Kieran went missing again and again but repeatedly discharging him from their care.

'The social workers were very child orientated; it was all about what Kieran wanted, if Kieran was happy,' she said.

'But we needed help as a family unit. Maybe if he hadn't come from a stable home background, we would have been seen more as a family in need and supported more.'

By the time Kieran was 16, he had experienced violence more akin to a gritty TV drama than sleepy Bury St Edmunds.

Acid was sprayed in his face and, at one point, he was held at gunpoint. 'Kieran said he had sore eyes after accidentally squirting himself in the face with Dettol, so we took him to A&E,' his mother said. 'Then I found some chat on his Facebook messenger, where Kieran wrote "Some crackhead has sprayed me in the face with ammonia".'

Mrs Hayward also found a reference to the gun incident: 'It was horrific. But he just laughed it off and said it was a replica. We were tearing our hair out, arguing about how to deal with it. We felt completely powerless, hopeless. No one seemed to have any answers.'

In September 2017, social services yet again became involved when Kieran, then 15, went missing for three days. Police arrested him for cannabis possession on the council estate opposite the school.

'This PC started lecturing us about how he had to knock on doors to tell parents that their child was dead because they were involved in drugs,' Mrs Hayward said. 'That's when I put in writing about the train tickets and my concerns about county lines and police agreed with me.'

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Nothing was done and Kieran's parents were further horrified to find in his room hundreds of pounds in cash and a 'burner phone' – an untraceable prepaid mobile used for drug deals. They gave him an ultimatum: give us the phone and money, or leave. 'We hoped it would be enough to scare him,' Mrs Hayward said.

'But he left. I was in tears begging him stay, to stop what he was doing, that we could help him. He just said "You can't help me Mum".'

He came home between stints selling drugs in Newmarket, Stowmarket and Colchester.

At one stage, Kieran told his mother who he was staying with. She said: 'I told this name to his youth worker and he went pale and said "You need to get him out of there, it's not safe. It's known for county lines". He told me to inform the police immediately.'

She did so and Kieran was found in a drugs den in Newmarket but refused to come home.

His mother said: 'An officer phoned me and said "I'm bringing Kieran back so you can see he is OK, but he's not staying with you, he wants to go back to Newmarket". I was in tears, saying he's still a child, he's only 16.

'But the officer even gave Kieran a lift back to the station so he could catch the train to Newmarket.'

Police refused to reveal Kieran's address, saying it wasn't safe for Mrs Hayward to go there.

When the property was raided two weeks later, her son was arrested for possession of a knife, class A drugs with intent to supply and money laundering.

'After his arrest an officer asked me why I was letting him hang out in places like that. It was so frustrating,' said his mother. I said I couldn't get him because the police wouldn't tell me where he was and he then wrote down the address.

'But by then there was no point as everyone had been evicted.'

At a loss, his mother took Kieran back to their GP. 'I was concerned about his mental health,' she said. 'We were trying to support him and I didn't understand why he kept going back.

'I begged him "Please let us help you". But he said "I can't Mum. It's too late, I'm in too deep".

'I was terrified. Even though we were hardly seeing him, he would phone me and text me to say he loved me. I would reply if you love us why are you doing this? Maybe he was staying away to protect us. Underneath it, I knew he was still my frightened little boy.'

Two months later, in December 2018, came the terrible ending. Kieran asked an adult gang member to buy him a machete and deliver it to a hotel room in Colchester where he was dealing.

The next day, December 16, Kieran stabbed Mr Saunders, 32, to death in an Ipswich alleyway in an apparent revenge attack for a drugs theft. Awash with guilt that their son had taken a life, yet distressed at the way his life has turned out, the Haywards maintain Kieran is a victim.

His mother said: 'I feel such sympathy for the other family because it could have been the other way around. And I do still have my son. I still get to hug him when I visit, and he will have the opportunity to turn his life around when he is eventually released.

'I know Daniel Saunders and his family do not have those second chances. The tragedy is they are all victims of the evil of drugs.

'I know Kieran wishes he had never got involved. But he is still a teenager and it's very difficult for a child to see he's been manipulated. We were asking for help. As parents we felt so powerless.

'These children are easy pickings.The signs were there, time and time again, that Kieran was being groomed.

'But they still did nothing. I put too much trust in the authorities. They let him and us down.' 

  a church with a clock on the side of a building: Head teachers in every secondary in Bury St Edmunds (pictured) have written to families urging them to attend a public meeting © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Head teachers in every secondary in Bury St Edmunds (pictured) have written to families urging them to attend a public meeting

Drug peril warning to every parent in middle England town 

Thousands of school parents have been warned their children are in danger of falling prey to county lines gangs in an affluent market town 'poisoned' by drugs.

Head teachers in every secondary in Bury St Edmunds have written to families urging them to attend a public meeting 'to protect the young people from the increasing risks they face'.

The extraordinary move comes as the Mail today reveals the scandal of a boy from the town who became a killer at 17 after being recruited by a gang to peddle drugs in his school lunch hour from the age of 13.

Kieran Hayward was a popular child from a loving and hardworking family based in a quiet cul-de-sac.

He descended into a hardened drug dealer who used Premier Inn hotel rooms to sell crack cocaine after being forced out of his secondary school. For four years, his parents battled to save the teenager, appealing to every official body. But last month Hayward was jailed for life at Ipswich Crown Court for stabbing an addict to death with a knife.

A day beforehand he had arranged for a gang member to buy him a machete from a shop in Southend. Today a Daily Mail investigation can reveal how: 

- Hayward started dealing drugs in his lunch hour at school, but police and teachers allegedly stood by, saying they could do nothing;

- When the 15-year-old was kicked out of classes, his school arranged for him to do online tuition from home for barely an hour a day, leaving him free to sell drugs;

- Astonishingly, after he went missing and was discovered living in a drugs den, his parents say the police dropped him off at a train station so he could head back there;

- Social services discharged the teenager several times, telling his parents there was little they could do.

During his six-week trial in August, Hayward was described as a boy from a 'thoroughly decent' family who sent him to an outstanding secondary, County Upper in Bury St Edmunds. This wasn't enough to save him from the clutches of a drugs gang.

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The school, which was heavily criticised in a recent Ofsted report for 'safeguarding weaknesses', refused to comment on the case.

It has joined with nine other secondary schools to warn parents about the dangers of drug gangs. On Monday, Colin Shaw, of West Suffolk College, wrote to parents inviting them to a public meeting on Monday.

He said: 'We are writing to you collectively as the head teachers and principals of the schools and colleges in and around Bury St Edmunds about the rapidly growing issue of county lines in this area.

'Our aim is to help protect the young people in Bury from the increasing risks they face and to take a common approach to this problem.'

He added: 'Our group is also looking at how to ensure that we take a firm, consistent line in situations where drug activity is brought into our schools and colleges whilst also ensuring that those involved receive appropriate support and guidance.'

Yesterday Tim Passmore, Suffolk's police and crime commissioner, attacked the 'poisonous impact' of county lines gangs that infect prosperous towns and villages.

An estimated 2,000 of the drugs networks make £500million a year from their vile trade.

Mr Passmore said: 'County lines is an issue nationally and sadly it is having a poisonous impact in Suffolk.

'I applaud this proactive, firm stance of head teachers in the west of our county. It's crucial that parents recognise these signs.'

Suffolk County Council said: 'County lines is a national issue that public services across the country are working proactively together to tackle.

'This talk on November 11 is about our wider prevention work to highlight the issue.'

A Suffolk Police spokesman said: 'Local officers discussed and agreed strategies with Kieran's parents on how to best manage his episodes of going missing and what was the best way to convince him to return home.'

He said an officer drove him home 'on the basis that they would drop him back in town afterwards' – not knowing he would return to the drugs den.        

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