Saturday 21 October 2017

Facebook 'may take months' to assist teen death probe

Darren Hughes-Gibson: found dead in abandoned warehouse
Darren Hughes-Gibson: found dead in abandoned warehouse

FACEBOOK could take nine months to supply information to gardai investigating the suicide of a schoolboy who is thought to have been bullied online.

The mother of Darren Hughes-Gibson (17) told a coroner that her son took his life after being bullied for being mixed race, and that he may have received threatening messages on Facebook before his death.

Darren was found hanging at Stephenstown Industrial Estate in Balbriggan, Co Dublin, on August 23 last year.

Gardai requested information relating to one of Darren's Facebook accounts from the social networking site – but the inquest heard that it may take six to nine months to get a response.

"I will wait six months, nine months, six years to find out. I need to know what drove him to this," said his mother Elaine Hughes.

The delay has been criticised by the National Anti-Bullying Co-ordinator of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Andrew Jackson.

"It would seem to be a disproportionate length of time to ask anyone to wait," he said.

Facebook had not responded to queries at the time of going to press. The inquest earlier heard that Darren was reported missing by his mother when he did not return to his home at Newhaven Bay in Balbriggan. Ms Hughes said that her son was a "happy young man" who was in "good spirits" on the day he disappeared.

She became worried when he did not return home by 10pm and his phone was off. She reported him missing the following morning.

Garda Derek Dalton said that the body was found by one of Darren's friends who was searching for him after seeing on Facebook that he was missing.

He told gardai that Darren had been in the same building – an abandoned warehouse – a few days prior to his death and had been "very down".

He went to the building to make sure that Darren had "not done anything to himself there", Gda Dalton said. When he found the body he attempted CPR and alerted emergency services.

MESSAGE

When gardai investigated Darren's mobile phone, they found a text message sent to his mother, which coroner Dr Farrell described as a "farewell note" written in "loving terms".

Ms Hughes said that she believed that her son was being bullied because he was mixed race and had a hearing aid. She said that she had heard "plenty of rumours" following his death.

Dr Farrell said that he would make inquiries to Facebook regarding Darren's accounts.

He adjourned the inquest for further mention in March.

By Gareth Naughton

Irish Independent

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