Ron and Penny Jones have fostered children for over 47 years and have even received honours from the Queen for their life-long commitment to providing homes for children in need. During their life they have helped over 270 foster children but have recently come out to criticise social services after it emerged they had fostered 16-year-old Ahmed Hassan, otherwise known as the Parsons Green bomber, but were given to information regarding his ISIS-related background.
In April 2016 the couple opened their homes to the 16-year-old teenager who had found refuge in the UK. To help make his stay as comfortable as possible the couple bought Ahmed Halal meet and even helped introduce him to the local mosque, and they even asked him permission before putting up Christmas decorations. Despite this, Ahmed was still committed to following a path of hatred and violence.
Penny Jones told reporters:
“He’d always told us his parents were dead. His mum was killed in the crossfire during the hunt for Saddam Hussein and his dad’s taxi was blown up in front of him, and he was captured by IS.
“He had an awful mark on his arm, a tattoo with numbers, which he kept picking at and cutting, and trying to get rid of, which he said was where he was branded by IS. At first he was very quiet and wouldn’t come and join us, he would just sit in his bedroom. We said, “How are you going to get better if you’re sitting up here on your own all the time?” Then he started coming down, watching football and things.
“He seemed like the loveliest boy we could have asked for – he was polite, helpful. He was as good as gold.”
Ron Jones also agreed:
“He seemed a great lad. I’d only have to say, “Ahmed, could you give us a hand with this?” and he was there. We used to tease each other and muck about.’ On their 48th wedding anniversary, he gave his foster carers a card saying: ‘You are now my English parents.’”
But the couple have criticised the government for hiding his terror-related past:
“The Home Office should have been honest. He still needed somewhere to live, he still needed to be looked after, but I would have liked to have known because we could’ve been looking out for signs of radicalisation. It feels like a total betrayal. I can’t believe he would do something like that. I’m just so grateful he didn’t succeed,” Penny told the Daily Mail
Ron agreed: “If we’d known, we could have been more watchful. I still can’t believe he did it. He seemed like such a good kid.”
The couple did not attend court during his sentencing.