Friday 26 December 2014

Cyber bullying victim Hannah Smith 'attacked at a party in months before her death'

Richard Vernalls

Published 06/05/2014 | 14:53

Hannah Smith (14)
Hannah Smith's father David Smith (centre) carrying her coffin following the teenagers funeral service at St Marys Church in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, as an inquest will be held today into the death of the 14-year-old schoolgirl, whose father claimed she was being targeted by cyberbullies.
Hannah Smith's father David Smith receives tributes at his home in Lutterworth, Leicestershire

A 14-year-old schoolgirl whose family had claimed she was driven to suicide by bullies had been attacked at a party in the months leading up to her death, an inquest has been told.

Hannah Smith, of Lutterworth, in Leicestershire was found dead at home in her bedroom by her older sister on August 2 2013.

At an inquest today at Leicester Town Hall, her father David Smith said his daughter had been bullied for some time and believed her eczema had been the reason she was targeted, adding she would try to avoid getting changed in front of classmates.

Describing his daughter as "self-confident", he added that after attending a party in March 2013, she was attacked by a former friend and afterwards "her behaviour seemed to change" from that of a "bubbly, happy" person to a more introverted young girl.

"She went to a party and had her head smashed against a wall, twice," Mr Smith told the coroner for Leicester and South Leicestershire Catherine Mason.

He said his daughter, who attended Lutterworth High School, had also taken to spending more time in bed and was late for class about once a week but put this down to being what he jokingly referred to as "a lazy teenager".

Mr Smith said he had also spoken to his daughter about self-harming, but she had never raised the subject of wanting to take her own life.

Hannah's older sister Joanne Smith, said on one occasion she had "ripped out the hair" of a person who she had believed to be bullying her sister at school and said her younger sibling had been targeted throughout years seven, eight and nine.

She added that whenever there was trouble, Hannah or her friends would alert her and she would "deal with it".

Ms Smith, 17, said she had been out into the early hours with friends, and on arriving back home had invited them all in where they had decided to go and wake Hannah as a prank.

"My friend opened her bedroom door and said the little light was on but he couldn't see her," said Ms Smith.

"We thought 'she's got to be around, and she'll probably jump out around the door and scare us'.

"Then I turned around and saw her."

Earlier in the inquest, a pathologist's report had given the cause of death as hanging.

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