Six-year-old Lauren Wright was found dead in an upstairs room at her home, 9 Chestnut Avenue, Welney, on 6th May 2000.

Her emaciated frame weighed just two stones and was covered with more than 60 bruises.

The following account of her tragic life is based on various newspaper and BBC reports and the inquest.

July 1993 - May 1997

Lauren Wright was born in Potters Bar in Hertfordshire on 16th July 1993, the result of a short affair between Craig Wright and Jennifer Bennett. Wright, a car mechanic, lived with his mother Christine Wright in the village of Three Holes, a couple of miles from Welney, and had little contact with his daughter in her first three years.

During that time Lauren had her first experience of parental neglect. In 1997 her mother went on holiday to Turkey taking Lauren with her and then leaving her there and returning alone to the UK having scratched Lauren's name from her passport.

The British Consulate had to organise Lauren's return and she was placed on the child protection register in Hertfordshire.

May 1997-1998

After that, in May 1997, Craig Wright took custody of Lauren, and nine months later Christine Wright obtained a residency order and became Lauren's legal guardian because of her concerns about the treatment Lauren might receive if returned to her mother.

Lauren Wright
Lauren aged about 5 looking happy and healthy


In January 1999 the Wrights - Christine, Craig and Lauren - moved to Welney, to No. 10 Chestnut Avenue and Lauren was enrolled at William Marshall School.

Her father divided his time between work, fishing, the pub and his new neighbour, Tracey Scarff, a single mother who lived next door at number 9 with her own two young children.

Lauren was then “a cheerful little girl with nothing but trust and a ready smile” and this photo, probably taken in late 1998 or early 1999, is the chubby, healthy 5-year-old child that many in Welney will remember.

In July 1999, just six months after meeting, Craig married Tracey, and he and Lauren moved in with Tracey and her nine-year-old son and six-year-old daughter.

Soon, apparently driven by resentment and antipathy, Tracey Wright, who by now had been appointed a mid-day playground assistant at Lauren's school, began abusing Lauren, openly discriminating against her while lavishing praise on her own children.

One villager said that a year before Lauren died he saw her in the street with her stepmother. He saw Tracey punch Lauren on the head with “incredible” force, knocking her to the ground. Tracey walked on and Lauren got up with silent tears streaming down her face, and chased after her stepmother. The villager said he had felt “sick to his stomach” but had not reported the incident because “he didn’t want to get involved”.

In November 1999 Lauren was interviewed by police who made a video recording as part of an investigation into allegations that Lauren had been sexually abused by her natural mother.

Lauren was regularly seen with bruises on the face and legs, injuries that Tracey Wright explained with barely credible excuses, but none the less she was believed..

Lauren Wright
Lauren aged about 6 looking tired and rather sad

January 2000

Around January 2000 staff at Lauren's school, in particular her class teacher Anna Wynn, and head-teacher Jasmine Golson, raised their concerns about Lauren's physical deterioration with Tracey Wright.

Ms. Golson accepted Tracey Wright's explanations for Lauren's "illness" and bruising. It seems that Tracey Wright's position as school playground assistant somehow helped to make her claims "plausible". Tracey also claimed that Lauren was bullied at school and named another child as the culprit.

There was also evidence of serious psychological abuse. Someone described seeing Lauren forced to stand in front of a lit gas fire as a punishment for wetting the bed. Tracey Wright's son saw his mother emptying a pepper pot onto a cheese sandwich she had made for Lauren, and putting a worm in her soup. Gradually Lauren became withdrawn, shy and nervy.

Craig Wright's mother, Christine Wright, who still lived next door, said that after her son moved in with Tracey, she regularly saw her grandchild, but after starting a new job in January 2000, she did not see Lauren as often. Then "one day she was wearing a t-shirt and I saw her arms. They were very, very thin - like a stick insect. I didn't realise she had lost that much weight". She said she noticed a bruise on the side of her face three or four months before Lauren died, "It was a very big bruise. It covered all her cheek". She said Tracey told her that the family dog knocked Lauren over and she banged herself on a table.

February 2000

On 9th February 2000, Lauren was seen by a local GP, Dr. Eamon Clarke from Upwell Health Surgery, at an outreach surgery in Welney Parish Hall He was told that Lauren complained of headaches, tiredness, dizziness, that her hair was falling out and she had nose bleeds.

Dr Clarke asked Tracey Wright to take Lauren to his main surgery at Upwell the following day, 10th February 2000, where he found bruises which Tracey said were caused by a playground fall. "The main significant findings were two bruises. One on the right cheek, one on the left forearm. She had no other signs of illness at that time apart from the fact that she was a rather pale child."

He referred Lauren to a specialist at a hospital in King's Lynn, writing "We are still unable to explain why this child is feeling so poorly at the moment." Dr Clarke did not see Lauren again, but another doctor at Upwell Heath Centre did see her in mid-March..

Throughout all this time Craig's input was minimal. Lauren was in bed when he got home from work and would just be getting up when he left in the morning..

One neighbour of the Wrights, Mrs Sylvia Kent, said Lauren had seemed happy before the couple started living together and that Lauren "got on very well" with her father, but she changed when with her stepmother. "My impression was that if she said anything she was going to get yelled at because that is all Tracey seemed to do".


March 2000

Another neighbour, Steve Arlington, phoned Social Services anonymously to report his concerns about the way she was being treated. He said Lauren was always covered up even on hot days and had a "weary and scared look about her". He said there were occasions when "you knew something was wrong". .

Norfolk Social Services acted promptly. On 14th March 2000 a social worker, Claire Mann, and an assistant, Charlotte Coates, visited Lauren and Tracey Wright. They interviewed Lauren at school and took her to a GP at Upwell health Centre for examination.

Ms Coates said: "She was a very endearing little thing. All her clothes were too big. They looked like hand-me-downs and were quite shabby. She was a very waif-like child. She had very poor quality, thinning hair. Her skin was very pale. She had quite a dull expression." The examination revealed numerous bruises on her body - on her torso, her arms and legs. The doctor considered the injuries were inconsistent with the excuses given by Tracey and arranged an appointment with a paediatrician.

Ms Coates and Ms Mann said Lauren echoed her stepmother's view, that the injuries had been caused by school bullies and during a game of blind man's bluff, and Mr Wright later also blamed bullies. Ms Mann said Lauren referred fondly to her "Mum and Dad" while insisting nothing made her unhappy at home.

On 20th March 2000, Lauren was examined by the paediatrician (who, where? Kings Lynnn?) who decided that the injuries were consistent with Tracey Wright's explanations. As a result of that, Social Services downgraded the case from red to amber alert, and Lauren was returned home to face yet more abuse.

In late March 2000 the Village postmistress, Wendy Redman, noticed bruising on both sides of Lauren's face. "On most of her face there was bruising, on both sides. It started at the neck. I have never seen bruising like that before." Mrs Redman raised her concerns with the secretary at Lauren's school and also with one of Lauren's aunts.


April 2000

On 12th April 2000 another anonymous call was made to Social Services concerning Lauren's welfare, but initially no action was taken. By then the social worker in charge of Lauren's case had left the department, but eventually an appointment was made for Lauren and Tracey to see a family support worker, but not until May 8, possibly because of the support worker's absence on holiday.

In late April 2000 two social workers from Hertfordshire visited Lauren "in connection with another matter" (abuse by Jennifer Bennett?) and they became concerned about Lauren, but no action was taken.


May 2000

On 2nd May Lauren didn't return to School after the break and Tracey's explanation that Lauren had gastro-enteritis was accepted. Christine Wright said that Tracey told her that Lauren had been to a doctor about the gastro-enteritis and she too believed the story.

In fact Lauren was lying in bed, bruised, battered, dreadfully undernourished and unable to eat or drink due to the collapse of her digestive system caused by brutal blows to her stomach inflicted by her step-mother.

On 6th May Tracey burst into Christine Wright's home shouting for help. Christine Wright rushed next door and attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but to no avail. Lauren was dead.

When Christine Wright questioned Tracey about a bruise. Tracey said it was caused when Lauren "pulled a wardrobe down on herself".

According to an accident and emergency consultant, Graham Cook, Lauren would "probably" have lived if she had been taken to hospital on the morning of her death.

May 2000

Shortly after Lauren's death in May 2000, Mrs Sylvia Kent, a neighbour of the Wrights, saw the couple in a local pub. She said Craig looked subdued but Tracey "sat laughing and joking, I just couldn't believe it".


The Abuse went on despite so many concerns

Despite the fact that Lauren's father lived in the same house and her grandmother lived next door, despite several of Tracey's large family living close by, despite the concerns of teachers, neighbours and others in Welney, despite Lauren being on the child protection register, despite visits by Police, Social workers from two counties and several doctors, Lauren's abuse continued unabated, and she endured months of unimaginable misery and a slow and agonising death.

Acknowledgements and Sources:
Site designed and maintained by the Welney Webmaster, Peter Cox.
Lauren's tragic life and death ends here.
But the repercussions, regrets, recriminations and reports rang out for a long time afterwards.