DCSIMG

Suicide girl sent online abuse to herself

Hannah Smith hanged herself last August. Picture: SWNS

Hannah Smith hanged herself last August. Picture: SWNS

  • by RICHARD VERNALLS
 

A POLICE investigation into the death of a 14-year-old found hanged in her bedroom uncovered no evidence she was the victim of internet bullying, an inquest has been told.

Asked by the Leicester and South Leicestershire coroner Catherine Mason if there was “any evidence” Hannah Smith was subjected to cyber-bullying, Detective Sergeant Wayne Simmons said: “No, there isn’t.”

DS Simmons, of Leicestershire Police, added that on the “balance of probabilities” the “vile” messages posted about Hannah to the social media site Ask.fm were posted by the teenager herself, in the run-up to her death on 2 August last year.

Ms Mason, recording a verdict of suicide yesterday, praised the teenager, from Lutterworth in Leicestershire, as “intelligent, bright, clever, and bubbly”, and offered her condolences to the girl’s family, including her father David Smith and older sister, 17-year-old Joanne Smith – both of whom gave evidence at the hearing.

Following her death, Hannah’s father had called for immediate action to be taken against internet trolls.

However, the police revealed at the inquest that closer scrutiny of Hannah’s laptop computer had revealed strong evidence she had in fact posted all the messages to herself.

Concluding the inquest, Ms Mason said: “It was quite clear that when Hannah died it was a huge shock to all that knew and loved her. Understandably, there was as an immediate searching as to why this had happened. That is a natural response.”

She added: “So there was this immediate, real and genuine fear that Hannah had been subjected to ‘vile’ messages on social media.

“Friends and family saw those [messages] after the event and that caused a lot of upset, understandably, that it might have taken Hannah to the point where she found herself on 
2 August last year.

“That was looked into and it was established from those investigations that those postings would have to have been made by a person who knew all the relevant details, the access details, to get on that site and be in the same location as Hannah.

“The evidence I have was that on the balance of probabilities they would all have been at Hannah’s own hand. Why she did it, I don’t know.”

Giving evidence earlier at yesterday’s inquest at Leicester Town Hall, her father Mr Smith revealed that his daughter had been involved in a fight with a friend at a party five months ­before her death.

He said he believed his daughter had been bullied for some time and thought her eczema had been the reason she was targeted. Describing his daughter as “self-confident”, he added that after attending the party in March 2013, “her behaviour seemed to change” from that of a “bubbly, happy” person to a more introverted girl.

Mr Smith said: “She went to a party and had her head smashed against a wall, twice.”

He said his daughter had also taken to spending more time in bed and was late for class about once a week.

Mr Smith said that he had spoken to his daughter about self-
harming but she had never raised the subject of wanting to take her own life. Her older sister – who discovered Hannah in her bedroom – said that in another incident in the months before the party, her sister’s coat had been “glued to a chair” at school.

Ms Smith also said she had “ripped out the hair” of another student who had apparently targeted her sister, and that Hannah had trouble with bullies.

However, the headteacher of Lutterworth High School, Nora Parker, said that although Hannah was “personable, pleasant young lady and very grounded for her age” she had been involved as a bully in incidents on “two separate ­occasions”.

Mrs Parker said that Hannah and her classmates had been taught about staying safe on the internet, adding there had never been a complaint of bullying to the school relating to the ­teenager.

In a report by a pathologist, the cause of death was given as hanging.

 
 
 

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