Erskine bridge deaths: Niamh Lafferty made repeated threats of suicide
TWO months before her death, a distressed Niamh Lafferty telephoned her mother, Colette Bysouth. It was no ordinary call, and made clear the emotional pain and turmoil the teenager was going through.
At one point in the conversation, she asked her mother where her jugular vein was. Another time, she made reference to jumping from the Erskine Bridge.
As Sheriff Ruth Anderson’s written determination revealed yesterday, such dark threats were made time and again by Niamh, a girl who endured a chaotic, unstable lifestyle which was numbed with drugs and alcohol until, one day, the pain became too much, and the threat was carried through.
The 15-year-old, from Helensburgh, saw things in her short life no child should. At the age of 11 she witnessed a brutal street brawl between her drug-addict father, Paul Lafferty, and a schoolfriend’s father, Brian Folan.
She saw her father covered in blood after he was stabbed multiple times and she later wrote a letter, describing her constant fear that she might one day lose him forever. It said: “I always knew he would die soon, but I had to be first.”
She also had to give evidence at a trial in which saw Mr Lafferty cleared of murdering Mr Folan on the grounds of self-defence.
Soon afterwards, she tried to take an overdose and cut her wrists. She drank alcohol, shoplifted, and played truant, and assaulted a fellow pupil at secondary school.
She was also left extremely distressed by the loss of her 16-year-old boyfriend Jonny McKernan, who was found dead in his bedroom following an apparent drug overdose in February 2009.
Niamh, who was taken into care a day after turning 14, left the centre to spend time with Jonny’s family at their home. In the months that followed, the inquiry heard that she tried to take her own life twice.
After her death, Niamh was buried next to Jonny in Helensburgh Cemetery. A year after her suicide, her father, a heroin user, took his own life.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 12 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: South east
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: West