JODIE Dunsmore was on her second day as a police community support officer when her “conscientious and tenacious” work exposed Amanda Hutton’s awful secret.
It began with a neighbour’s complaint to police about dirty nappies being thrown from Hutton’s house and ended, several days later, with the discovery of Hamzah’s dead body.
Dunsmore, now a PC, made repeated visits to Hutton and her suspicions grew with each failure to get an answer. On her second visit she noticed a “vile smell” as she peered through the letterbox.
“When I saw all the flies and the smell I was thinking ‘Has someone died in there?’. This is exactly what I thought because I was then getting no answer.
“I went down to speak to the complainant next door, and I explained that I was still trying to deal with his neighbour complaint, I did not want him to think that I had forgotten about him but told him that I could not get hold of the neighbour.
“He explained that he had seen some of the occupants in the street 20 minutes prior.
“He had not seen anyone leave the house.”
She said this was a “turning point” for her.
Pc Dunsmore said that after posting a “contact card” with her details she received a late night phone call from Hutton who was “very evasive” when she had asked if she could come and see her.
She concluded Hutton was hiding something.
It was advice from a friend in CID that enabled her to eventually get Hutton to answer her door.
“She just said to me ‘Threaten to kick the door through’ and I actually laughed at the time. I said, ‘I am a PCSO, I cannot do that’. She said no, but you can shout it, and quite often it works.”
She said her PCSO colleague, who accompanied her, shouted through Hutton’s door: “It’s the police, it’s nothing to worry about, but if you don’t open up we are going to break the door down.”
Hutton eventually came to the door.
“She had a look on her face. She looked like she was stopping herself from being sick, her hair was quite grey and matted.
“I remember that her teeth weren’t very nice and that she had a woollen jumper on and it appeared that flies were coming off her jumper.
“I asked her if I could go in the house because by this point I was determined I wanted to see what was going on in that house. She said she would not let me in. I explained that I had been told that one of the youngsters was off school. Where were they?
“She told me that they were in bed. I asked if I could see them. She said no. My colleague asked her if she needed any medical attention and she refused.
“There was nothing at that point. I could not force my way in. I didn’t have the powers to.”
Before she reached the end of the path as they left, however, she was ringing senior officers and social services to report her concerns, allowing the horrific home life of Hutton and her family to be finally exposed. Pc Dunsmore was praised in court for her tenacity in the case.