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Friday 22 August 2014

Mum of suicide boy begs Facebook to hand over messages from 'cyber-bullies'

Gareth Naughton and Mark O'Regan

Published 13/06/2014 | 02:30

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Darren Hughes-Gibson
Elaine Hughes, the mother of Darren Hughes Gibson
Elaine Hughes, the mother of Darren Hughes Gibson

A HEARTBROKEN mother who believes her son was cyber-bullied before taking his own life has pleaded with Facebook to release messages to the coroner.

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Gardai told coroner Dr Brian Farrell that attempts to retrieve messages sent to 17-year-old Darren Hughes-Gibson on the site have failed because Facebook wasn't co-operating.

Darren was found hanging at Stephenstown Industrial Estate in Balbriggan, north county Dublin on August 23, 2012.

Mother Elaine Hughes said: "I would appeal to Facebook to please show some compassion.

"He was a 17-year-old child whose life was lost through no fault of Facebook but of the bullies who put those messages up there.

"For a bit of justice for him, if they could please, please release them to the Coroner's Court."

Last September, Ms Hughes told the coroner that Darren may have received threatening messages on Facebook before his death. The messages have since been deleted.

The inquest has been adjourned a number of times so gardai could request copies of the messages from Facebook. In the intervening period Ms Hughes found texts on Darren's phone, and submitted them to the court.

She described the texts as "horrific" and "threatening".

Facebook's failure to co-operate with gardai emerged as Dr Farrell was being updated on progress with their investigation.

Garda Fergal McSharry said they have been liaising with the FBI on retrieving the messages from Facebook but the company wasn't co-operating. Gda McSharry also told the court that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has revisited the matter and directions have come back that there will be no prosecution. "No offence has been disclosed," he said.

When asked by Ms Hughes if the people who sent the messages have been interviewed by gardai, he said they have not.

"The problem is, what do we arrest them for? What complaint? There is a lot of hearsay evidence," he said.

Warned

Dr Farrell said that he would write to Facebook directly to request the records but warned the family that they should not be "over optimistic" that he would be successful.

The inquest was adjourned until September 22.

A Facebook spokesman told the Irish Independent it could not comment on individual cases.

In a statement, it added: "Facebook's law enforcement team works closely with agencies around the world. We respond to valid legal requests for information and encourage law enforcement agencies to follow our guidelines to help take their cases forward."

Irish Independent

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