‘Gentle and caring’ Sidmouth boy, 12, killed himself after repeated bullying at school, inquest hears

A 12-year-old ‘gentle and caring boy’ from Sidmouth killed himself in his bedroom after he was repeatedly bullied at school, an inquest has heard.

On the morning of his death former Sidmouth Community College student Riley Hadley, who was being home-tutored, told his friend he had to come back to school.

Riley’s mum, Alison Holmes, returned from work on October 15, 2019, to find her son hanged in his bedroom.

Recording a conclusion of suicide, assistant coroner Alison Longhorn said she was satisfied Riley ‘very sadly’ intended to take his own life.

She said: “It must be heartbreaking to lose someone so young in these circumstances.”

A post mortem found Riley died from asphyxia by hanging.

The inquest heard how the bullying began while in Riley was a Year 7 pupil at Sidmouth Community College.

Police investigating Riley’s death interviewed around 30 children who knew him and learned the lad had been the repeated victim of bullying.

The inquest heard how bullies chased Riley in the park, pushed him into a road, tripped him in school corridors, so he was afraid to go to school.

Assistant coroner Alison Longhorn, sitting at County Hall, Exeter, on Wednesday (May 19), said the repeated bullying of Riley at school included hurtful comments, where he was told ‘do us all a favour and slit your wrists’.

Riley’s mum said her son was ‘afraid’ to go to school and the local park for ‘fear of being bullied’.

His mum began home-tutoring Riley in the autumn term of 2019, so he did not have return to school after the summer holidays.

In the days leading up to his death Riley met up with friends and seemed happy, his mum said.

On the day he died Riley saw his doctor for a routine appointment, where he discussed some anxiousness about school.

Back at home, in Arcot Park, Sidmouth, Riley and his mum discussed if he should go back to school or have a home tutor.

His mum said: “He had a cry. We talked and he seemed a bit better.”

Riley’s mum said in the months before he died her son had been questioning his sexuality and thought ‘he might prefer boys’.

She told him he was still young and urged him not worry, but he struggled to sleep and suffered with anxiety.

His mother described Riley as ‘a gentle, caring boy who struggled with large groups of individuals’.

The inquest heard how on the day of October 15, 2019, Riley stayed at home while his mum went to work.

When she returned in the afternoon, she found him hanged in his room, cold to the touch and unresponsive.

Detective inspector Charlotte Heath told the inquest how Riley had previously been reported missing to police in July 2019, because of ‘pressures at school’, but was found a short while later.

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