19-year-old hanged himself after being bullied, blackmailed on Xbox over naked photos, says mother
Joel Devine Crockett was relentlessly bullied and taunted on his Xbox after his naked pictures made their way online, his mother said
A 19-year-old hung himself at his family's home after enduring months of bullying online, his mother has now revealed.
Joel Devine Crockett, of Liverpool, who had Asperger's syndrome and suffered from learning difficulties, was found hanging in his bedroom by his mom Ruth, 52, at their Wavertree home on April 26, reported Daily Mail.
On making the horrific discovery, Ruth ran out of the house screaming for help and managed to flag down a police car before paramedics arrived at the scene. Despite their best efforts, the teen could not be saved and was pronounced dead later in the day.
Now, more than three months after his death, Ruth has revealed her son was "bullied to death." She said he was blackmailed and taunted relentlessly through his Xbox after his nude images were circulated online in November last year.
"Joel was vulnerable," she said. "He was conned and bullied into buying games. He set up overdrafts and credit cards, things that were really out of character for him and that would play on his mind."
She revealed her son had told her that a boy from his school was sharing naked photos online, but assured her that they weren't his. "It turned out they were, but he seemed to be able to deal with it," she said.
The bullying reached worrying levels in the days leading up to his death. "Three days before he passed away, I heard him being taunted through the Xbox, been called names like "c**t," Ruth said. "Towards the end, I noticed signs of low moods but never did I think he would kill himself."
She said he asked her for a "lump sum of money" but that she refused to give it to him. In hindsight, she said the money must have been to stave off the blackmailers.
"He never told me what it was for, looking back now I think maybe he was being blackmailed for his photos," she said. "We were going to Spain in a few weeks so I said no. Looking back, I should have just given Joel the money."
The Liverpool Echo reported that, in July, police arrested an 18-year-old from Croxteth for possible malicious communications in connection to Joel's death. He was detained on suspicion of sharing material with intent to cause distress, and his phone was analyzed for potentially criminal content or messages before he was released.
An inquest hearing into the teen's death was adjourned for around three months to allow investigations to continue.
Ruth said she hoped that the law would be changed so it's easier to obtain evidence when someone is abused over a games console. "Anyone can come into your game and pull you apart and there is absolutely no evidence so they get away with it," she said. "Someone can make you feel horrible and there's absolutely no way to prove it. Death by suicide rips your heart out. I just wanted Joel to be happy, if he laughed, if he smiled, I was happy."