16-year-old schoolgirl killed herself after former friends bullied her for years and left her too afraid to leave home
16-year-old Lauren Lelonek suffered years of physical abuse and threats over social media before taking her own life at her family residence in Cheshire in 2016, the inquest heard
An inquest into the death of a schoolgirl heard how she hanged herself after being the victim of a vicious and prolonged bullying campaign.
The victim, 16-year-old Lauren Lelonek suffered years of physical abuse and threats over social media before taking her own life at her family residence in Cheshire in 2016, the inquest heard.
Two girls, aged 17 and 18 respectively, admitted to harassing the victim for six months leading up to her death before being handed community punishments for the same, according to a Daily Mail report.
The 18-year-old suspect had launched a campaign of bullying against Lauren, according to the report. The court heard how she pinned her against a fence by her throat, dragged her to the floor by her hair and kicked her as she lay on the ground.
Lauren and her friend Libby Boland were reportedly targeted by the two bullies. The group had previously been friends with one another.
Lauren confided in family members that she was frightened to leave the house alone after both bullies reportedly began waiting for the victims outside their school — the University of Chester Academy, in Northwich.
"They would wait for her outside the school and make threats," Ian and Sarah Lelonek told reporters following their daughter's death in 2016. "She went through hell for years, not just the six months," they said in court. "When she decided to break away from these girls, the bullying got worse."
A coroner has now found that there were multiple chances for Lauren's school, law enforcement, and healthcare providers to step in and help her situation. Lauren's father Ian said little was done to help his daughter despite repeated calls to the police as well as meetings with school officials.
The defenseless schoolgirl was eventually found hanging at her family home, which she shared with her parents and four siblings, the Warrington Coroners' Court heard.
"Lauren was an intelligent, smart and beautiful girl who was caring and supportive of those around her," Coroner Peter Sigee said, recording his conclusion of suicide. "From the start of Year 11, Lauren was aware of threats of bullying to her best friend. By standing by her, she too became a victim."
The evidence laid out in court detailed the shortcomings in the now-dissolved University of Chester Academies Trust anti-bullying policy as well as in the investigations led by Cheshire police.
"While I have been concerned with matters as they were in 2015 and 2016, I have heard detailed evidence from the school, the police and healthcare providers about substantial changes that have been made since, and largely as a result of, Lauren's death," Coroner Sigee noted.