Flowers in Gods Garden - Documents
??/??/?? - CHAPTER 2 - ROSE (ROSIE) FRANCES PALMER

THE REPORT OF THE INQUIRY INTO THE CARE AND TREATMENT OF
SHAUN ANTHONY ARMSTRONG

CHAPTER 2

ROSE (ROSIE) FRANCES PALMER

Rosie's mother Beverley Frances Wendy Anne Palmer was born in Hartlepool in 1957. She married at nineteen but the marriage only lasted four years before ending in divorce. At twenty-two she commenced nurse training and on successful completion she moved to the Bristol area.

Here she met Martin Palmer and they married in 1989. Rosie was born on the 1st August 1990. In September 1990 Mrs Palmer was admitted to Barrow Psychiatric Unit in Bristol apparently suffering from post-natal depression. Shortly afterwards Mrs Palmer discharged herself against medical advice and returned to live in Hartlepool, taking Rosie with her.

Approximately eighteen months later she met John Thornton and they began to live together at a number of addresses and finally at 12 Henrietta Street Hartlepool with effect from September 1992. On 18th December 1993 their daughter Emmie Thornton was born.

Although Mr and Mrs Palmer did not live together again after Mrs Palmer's return to the North East in or about October 1990, Mr Palmer was determined to maintain contact with Rosie and continued, on a regular basis, to drive up to visit every few weeks. The last contact was just a month before Rosie's tragic death.

Evidence was given to the effect that Rosie had distinctive ginger hair and wore glasses. She had an engaging grin and was always full of life; she adored her little sister and enjoyed horse riding and swimming; she was described by the staff at the Salvation Army Hostel Nursery, where she had a one hundred percent attendance record as being a sensible mature little girl who did not wander, and a happy child with a sense of humour.

Number 12 Henrietta Street was situated on the Headland in Hartlepool just fifty yards away from the upstairs flat at 51 Frederick Street where Armstrong had lived since August 1993. The Headland was considered to be a very close-knit community where it was safe for children to play out in the streets.

Rosie had a number of friends in the area including the great granddaughter of the lady who lived below Armstrong and it was not uncommon for Rosie to play in the common yard at the rear of those premises.

An ice cream van would visit the area almost on a daily basis and about three times a week Rosie would ask her mother for money so that she could purchase a lollipop, when the van stopped about forty yards from her home and to the rear of Armstrong's home.

On the 30th June 1994 Rosie's stepfather John Thornton had collected her from the Nursery School and was looking after her until Mrs Palmer returned.

Rosie asked for, and received from her stepfather, enough money to buy a lollipop and ran out of her house to the ice cream van. Apparently she asked not for a lollipop but an ice cream and, although she did not have sufficient money, the ice cream man gave her the ice cream as she was a regular and popular customer.

When Rosie had not returned by 5.30pm her stepfather woke her mother who had by this time returned home and fallen asleep on the couch and a search was instigated locally. When no trace of Rosie was found the Police were informed at about 8.45pm.

Rosie was never seen alive again. Although her body was not in fact found by the Police until 3rd July 1994 it is now clear that Armstrong had committed the murder no later than 4.30pm on the 30th June 1994.

From all the Reports which we read and the evidence that we heard it is apparent that Rosie was an endearing cheerful little girl who brightened the lives of everyone with whom she came into contact. It is an absolute tragedy that such a young life should be taken, and in such a heinous manner, and we express our condolences and sympathy to the family of Rosie Palmer for the suffering which they must have endured.
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