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Thursday 22 August 2019

Mother of 17 year-old who died by suicide found 'horrific' and 'threatening' messages on his phone, inquest hears.

'I feel if it were not for those messages, he would still be here' mother says

Darren Hughes-Gibson
Darren Hughes-Gibson

A mother who suspects her teenage son's death by suicide is linked to cyberbullying told the Dublin coroner that she has found “horrific” and "threatening" messages on his phone.

Elaine Hughes, mother of 17-year-old Darren Hughes-Gibson from New Haven Bay in Balbriggan, Co Dublin, said she believes her son would still be alive today were it not for the messages.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that a number of people have been interviewed following the discovery of the messages and gardaí are considering further action.

The inquest into Darren’s death had previously been adjourned after Ms Hughes raised concerns that he may have received threatening messages on Facebook prior to being found hanging at a warehouse in Stephenstown Industrial Estate in Balbriggan on August 23, 2012.

The court had heard that he was found in the abandoned building by a friend who went searching for him after seeing on Facebook that he was missing.

When gardaí investigated Darren's mobile they found a text message to his mother which coroner Dr Brian Farrell described as a "farewell note".

Ms Hughes told the court that she believed that her son had been bullied because he was mixed race and had a hearing aid.

Threatening messages had been deleted from his Facebook account following his death, she said. 

Dr Farrell adjourned the inquest to allow time for gardaí to secure information on Darren’s accounts from Facebook.

Updating the court on their progress, Garda Derek Dalton said that there are two to three avenues of investigation that have yet to be exhausted.

Addressing the coroner from the body of the court, Ms Hughes said she found the messages on the phone after it was returned to her by gardaí following the first day of the inquest.

“They are horrific, the things that they were saying to him,” she said.

“There were messages on the phone saying the things they were going to do to him and that they wanted him dead”.

She asked the coroner to review the messages to see their “seriousness”.

“I feel if it were not for those messages, he would still be here,” she said.

People that she thought were Darren's friends had said "horrific" things, she added.

Gda Dalton said that the messages reappeared when the phone was restored to factory settings after forensic investigators inspected it. He told the coroner that a number of people have subsequently been interviewed and a file may go to the director of public prosecutions.

Dr Farrell told Ms Hughes that he would review the messages but he could not comment further.

He adjourned the inquest for another mention on June 12.

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