Inquest: ‘My son was bullied on Facebook because he was mixed race’
Coroner asks for information from social network after death of Darren Hughes-Gibson (17)
THE mother of a teenager who took his own life told the Dublin coroner that he may have received threatening messages on Facebook before his death.
Elaine Hughes made the claim while speaking from the body of the court at the inquest into the death of her 17-year-old son Darren Hughes-Gibson, who was found hanging at Stephenstown Industrial Estate in Balbriggan, Co Dublin, on August 23 last year.
The court heard that gardaí were searching for Darren after he was reported missing by his mother when he did not return to his home at Newhaven Bay in Balbriggan the previous night. 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 powered 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 gardaí 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, and when he found the body attempted CPR and alerted the emergency services.
When gardaí investigated Darren’s mobile phone they found a text message sent to his mother which coroner Dr Brian Farrell described as a “farewell note” written in “loving terms”.
Addressing the coroner during Gda Dalton’s evidence, 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.
“I was told that there were threatening messages on his Facebook that were deleted when he passed away,” she said.
Gda Dalton said that gardaí had requested information relating to one of Darren’s Facebook accounts from the social networking site but that it may take six to nine months to get a response. Ms Hughes said that there may be messages on another Facebook account which her son had deactivated.
“I will wait six months, nine months, six years to find out. I need to know what drove him to this,” she said.
Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said that he would make separate enquiries to Facebook regarding Darren’s accounts. He adjourned the inquest for further mention in March.