Devastated: Despair of devoted foster couple who welcomed two refugees into their home who are now embroiled in 'bucket bomb' probe
2017-Sep-18 | By News Admin
  •     Penny and Ronald Jones gave their love to teenagers embroiled in investigation
  •     They have fostered since the 1970s and welcomed 268 children into their home
  •     It was claimed they were caring for the main suspect of the Parsons Green attack

They devoted their lives to fostering nearly 300 needy children including refugees.

But last night Penny and Ronald Jones were devastated after it appeared they had unwittingly given their love and support to two teenagers embroiled in the investigation into the Parsons Green bombing.

Mrs Jones, 71, and Mr Jones, 88, have been fostering since the 1970s, welcoming 268 children into their home, and were honoured with MBEs from the Queen.

But yesterday it was claimed they had been caring for the main suspect in Friday's attack, an 18-year-old refugee, believed to be Iraqi, who was arrested in Dover on Saturday, apparently trying to flee the country.

Neighbours in Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey, said the teenager had been a 'problem' and that they had been contacting officials saying they were unable to cope.

Penny and Ronald Jones (pictured on a luxury cruise holiday) unwittingly gave their love and support to two teenagers embroiled in the investigation into the Parsons Green bombing

It is also thought the couple had in the past looked after Yahya Faroukh, 21, whose home near Heathrow airport was searched by police yesterday. As police searched the couple's suburban home at the weekend, a friend told the Daily Mail: 'To say they are gutted is an understatement.

'For this to happen, after all the kids they have fostered, and for it to ruin everything... questions have to be asked about what checks were made and who decided to place him with them.' 

Even though Mr Jones is on the cusp of his tenth decade and uses a mobility scooter, the couple were coaxed out of retirement a few years ago by a deep-seated desire to help children fleeing war zones.

Mrs Jones said in a recent interview: 'We try and support where we can – because they've had bad lives. They just need to be loved.'

When the couple were awarded their MBEs at Buckingham Palace in 2009, Mrs Jones said: 'We open our hearts to all the children. Anybody that comes to us, we will do whatever we can to help them with whatever they need.'

But their latest charge, a teenager born in Baghdad who came to Britain as a refugee a couple of years ago via an immigration centre in Dover, was proving a handful, it was said.

Stephen Griffiths, 28, who lives across the road, said: 'Police have been at this address a few times in the last couple of weeks.'

Aaron Nye, a former foster child of the couple, said they had told him they had hosted some 'difficult teenagers' recently, adding: 'I really feel for Penny and Ron. It's dreadful for them and it has made me quite emotional – they never asked for any of this and they have been so good to so many kids.'

Family friend Jim Adaway, 37, said the couple willingly took on refugee children after retirement, but admitted they had struggled with one of the youngsters.

It is also thought the couple had in the past looked after Yahya Faroukh, 21, (pictured) whose home near Heathrow airport was searched by police yesterday

He said: 'I think Penny was getting in touch with [the authorities] saying, 'I cannot handle this one'. I don't know if it was the right decision to do this.'

The couple, who have six grown-up children of their own, had given up fostering and were enjoying their retirement but in recent years were moved by the plight of children arriving from war zones. They have opened the door of their modest home to youngsters from countries including Iraq, Eritrea, Syria, Albania and Afghanistan.

Mrs Jones said: 'You have to have patience and remember they've been through a lot – they're doing their best but nothing is going to happen overnight.

'But it's so rewarding. They're grateful to be safe, to have a bed to sleep in and to have food and [our support]… that's all they need.'

One refugee was a 15-year-old boy who had smuggled himself into the country from Calais in the back of a lorry. Fostering refugees has involved accompanying them to Home Office appointments and helping them find a solicitor.

Mrs Jones said: 'Sometimes, watching the news, they can get so worked up that they have to leave the house and go for a walk – it's awful to see and it's so difficult for them. We just try and support where we can.'

She added: 'They're all children – they just need to be loved.'

Nicky Rider, 43, a neighbour of the Joneses, said: 'They are a lovely couple. I have known them all my life. They must be devastated.'

Another neighbour said: 'I feel for them both. They don't deserve this at this time of their life.'

 

Sources : Dailymail