Friday 13 December 2019

Gardai receive 2,500 pages of deleted messages from Facebook account of tragic teen

Darren Hughes Gibson
Darren Hughes Gibson
Elaine Hughes holding a picture of her late son Darren

Louise Roseingrave

GARDAI have received 2,500 pages of deleted messages from the Facebook account of a teenager whose mother believes was cyberbullied before taking his own life.

The information came from Facebook through US authorities following an application by the DPP, an inquest heard.

Darren Hughes Gibson (17) was found hanging at the Stephenstown Industrial Estate in Balbriggan, north country Dublin on August 23, 2012. He had been reported missing by his mother, Elaine Hughes after he failed to return to the family home at New Haven Bay the previous night.

Det Insp Kieran Holohan of Balbriggan Garda Station said Gardai had downloaded and saved some 2,500 pages of messages sent to and from Darren’s Facebook account. The messages were deleted after his death.

“We applied to Facebook and got the information back,” he said. The information provided by Facebook includes messages sent after Darren’s death, Dublin Coroner’s Court heard.

“There are messages post-death that would be of interest, including mentions of bullying; friends of his making comments,” Det Insp Holohan said. The messages include inferences of harassment and bullying, the court heard.

Gardai have identified a number of examples of ‘reading material’ they have concerns about. Three conversations in particular ‘stand above’ the others, the court heard. Interviews have begun and a number of statements have been taken although Gardai were experiencing difficulties contacting many of those involved.

Gardai agreed to send a sample of complaints arising from the Facebook messages to the DPP in order to progress the case. Det Insp Holohan said there was a legal difficulty because while there would be concerns about some messages, they might not be considered harassment in the legal sense, he said.

“I’m conscious of bringing the correct closure to it,” Det Insp Holohan said.

Ms Hughes said her son was bullied throughout his life for the colour of his skin and because he wore a hearing aid. Speaking from the public gallery she said she wanted Gardai to bring charges in order to progress the case.

“This is why we’re still in the situation we are in, nobody will follow through with charges. It’s either bullying and harassment or it’s not,” she said.

“He was a child, he can’t be here to defend himself. I should be able to give a statement on his behalf in order to follow through with the charges,” she said.

“I’m looking for closure. I want to know what happened my son. I want justice for him and if it stops it happening to anyone else. People can’t get away with it,” she said.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell agreed to adjourned the inquest until April 15 for further mention.

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