Peter’s mother, Tracey Connelly, nee Cox, was born in Leicester in 1981 and her childhood was complicated and unsettled. Her mother, Mary (or Nula to her friends) was a drug user and a drunk, and her relationship with Garry Cox (the man Connelly believed to be her father) was violent and abusive. Their house was unhygenicly dirty, and Connelly and her half-brother were unclean and unsupervised. Mary and Garry Cox separated in 1984. Connelly and her mother moved to London whilst her half-brother remained with Cox in Leicester.
At the age of 12 Mary informed her daughter she was, in fact, the product of a drunken one-night stand in Leicester with married family friend Richard Johnson.
Following the death of G Cox in 1988, Connelly’s half-brother joined her and their mother in London. He had difficulties settling and was reportedly violent at school and towards his half-sister at home. If Mary had moved to London in the hope of a better life, this was not the case for her children. One childhood friend from primary school remembers Connelly: ‘She was the kid at school no one wanted to play with. She was plump, dirty, and would turn up at school in shoes that were falling to bits and old tracksuit bottoms. Children called her Tracey the Tramp because she was so scruffy. She was always getting beaten up by other kids and I remember seeing her at school once with a split lip.’
Connelly quickly developed a tough veneer. She learned to put up and shut up, especially after she complained to her mother that she was being physically abused by a close male relative, only to be accused of being a liar.
Lonely, fatherless and lacking any self-esteem, Connelly went in search of whatever affection she could find. From a very young age she was quite promiscuous, possibly craving the attention lacking at home.
From 1991 until June 1992, Connelly was placed on the child protection register due to neglect, though physical abuse was also suspected. Social Services remained involved with the family and Connelly was sent to Farney Close boarding school in West Sussex, catering for children with special education needs and behavioural and social problems and rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, where she sat and passed GCSEs including English and IT. It is these early dealings with social services that are believed to have aided Connelly in decieving social workers charged with the protection of her own childre, later in life.
After leaving school and aged 16, Connelly met Peter’s father, a railway worker, then aged 33, who cannot be named for legal reasons. A year passed before they moved into a council house in Tottenham, where Connelly gave birth to three daughters in quick succession before Baby Peter arrived. They married six years later in September 2003. Peters father had no dealings with social services prior becoming involved with Connelly.
Peter was just three months old when Connelly split from her husband, amid rows over the housework – or rather lack of it – and allegations that she was flirting with other men on internet chatrooms. She was also diagnosed with depression.
Within three months, 33-year-old Steven Barker, who she’d met when he was doing maintenance work on a friend’s flat, was her boyfriend.
By all accounts, Peters natural father (PF) is a loving father and was duped by Tracey Connelly, along with the authorities. Peters father repeatedly raised concerns about Peters welfare after separating with Tracey and particularly after her involvement with Barker.
Born in June 1976 (the second eldest of five siblings) and brought up in London, Barker went to a special school in Tottenham and had an IQ of about 60. Despite claiming to be unable to read or write during the trial, police were able to prove otherwise, through text messages he had sent.
At 6ft 4ins and 18 stone, he was obsessed with knives, martial arts weapons and kept a cross-bow as well as collection of Swastika memorabilia. He used to stride around his home in combat gear. As a child he enjoyed hurting animals and tortured guinea pigs and frogs – skinning the latter before breaking their legs. He kept two pet snakes at Tracey Connelly’s home and fed them dead chicks, mice and rabbits. His fascination with causing pain to animals saw him prosecuted for that very obsession by the RSPCA.
He and his brother, Jason Owen/Barker (who also tortured and murdered Peter) had previously escaped trial for torturing their own Grandmother, Hilda Barker, in an attempt to get her to change her will, because she died of pneumonia before the case came to court.
He moved in with Connelly in February 2007, their first home in Hermitage Road, Tottenham, was described by social workers as cramped, untidy and smelling of urine.
They were moved to a church housing association property in nearby Penshurst Road which they shared with the family rottweiler, German shepherd and Staffordshire bull terrier. This is the house where Peter would die a brutal, lonely and agonising death.
Social workers who visited the house claim they were unaware of his presence and of the huge role he played in the lives of Connelly’s four children, bathing them, preparing their meals and looking after them while Connelly sat on the computer playing on the internet into the early hours, and then spending the rest of the day in bed.
At sometime around June 2007, Stephen Barker’s brother, Jason
Barker (who later changed his name to Owen in an attempt to avoid recognition) moved into Connelly’s home with his 15 year old girlfriend (the reason he was on the run and looking for a place to hide) and his 4 children. Owen is said to dominate his younger brother, and the violence against Peter escalated during the time the Owen was in residence. Owen (who is believed to have bragged whilst out on bail: ‘me and a friend tortured someone…but it went too far’) attempted to flee the country and escape justice before the trial.