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DPP and FBI push Facebook for tragic Darren messages

The DPP has agreed to apply to Facebook, via the US authorities, for deleted messages on the account of a teenager whose mother believes he was cyber-bullied in the weeks before he took his own life, the Dublin coroner has heard.

Darren Hughes-Gibson (17) was found hanged at Stephenstown Industrial Estate in Balbriggan, north county Dublin on August 23, 2012. He had been reported missing by his mother, Elaine Hughes, when he failed to return to their home at New Haven Bay in Balbriggan the night before.

At previous sittings of Dublin Coroner's Court, Ms Hughes had raised the issue of threatening messages which she believes were made on his Facebook account in the weeks before he died and subsequently deleted after he was found.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell asked gardai to look into the claims and in June they told him that they had been liaising with the FBI but Facebook was not co-operating.

The company issued a statement saying they respond to "valid legal requests for information" and they encourage law enforcement agencies to following their "guidelines".


Gardai subsequently launched a fresh investigation into Darren's death, focusing on potential harassment and a preservation order was placed on the Facebook accounts in August. It was hoped the investigation would provide grounds for the application to access the accounts.

It is understood that the US authorities will need to be satisfied there is sufficient evidence that a potential crime has been committed before Facebook will be asked to hand over the messages.

Updating the coroner on their progress, Detective Inspector Kieran Holohan said that gardai have now completed the necessary documentation and forwarded it to the office of the DPP. Gardai require the agreement of the DPP to send the application to the US authorities who will then consider it.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell adjourned the inquest for further mention on March 9.