A 13-year-old boy was found hanged after finding out the girl he had a secret ‘crush’ on had started dating another boy, a coroner heard today.
Harry Storey’s friends thought he was joking when he commented to them on WhatsApp that he had thoughts about suicide after learning he had a love rival.
Oxforshire Coroner Darren Salter also heard the schoolboy had watched a TV programme where a female star had hanged herself and he may have developed a glamorised view of what it might be like.
However, a police investigator told the inquest that, tragically, Harry did not intend to die when he hanged himself and probably did not realise how quickly he would lose consciousness.
The teenager’s father, Andrew Storey, walked into the house in Chilton, near Didcot, Oxfordshire, on March 1, after finishing work and saw Harry on the stairs out of the corner of his eye.
Harry Storey, 13, was found hanging by his father, who thought he was standing on the stairs looking down at his phone, an inquest heard
At first Harry’s father thought his son was standing on the stairs looking down at his phone, before he realised what had happened.
The discovery of the schoolboy came as a ‘complete shock’ to his devastated family who never had any worries about him and regarded him as a regular, happy boy with no previous mental health issues.
In his evidence, Mr Storey said: ‘I walked through the front door and I thought Harry was on the stairs looking down at his phone but I quickly realised he wasn’t.
‘I could not comprehend what I was seeing.’
Mr Storey told the court that he started CPR on the Year Nine pupil and when his wife Sue walked in he shouted that Harry had hanged himself and to call for help.
‘Harry was a charismatic, caring boy and sport was a huge part of his life, playing rugby, cricket and tennis. He would talk to anyone with ease and he had a natural ability to strike up a conversation which I admired him for.
‘He seemed to us to be just a normal teenager but he did have high expectations of himself. It came as a complete shock to me,’ Mr Storey added.
The inquest in Oxford heard that Harry had plans for the next three weekends and his family had desperately tried to work out what happened, suspecting that a programme they had watched together on TV may have influenced him.
Harry was rushed by road ambulance from his home to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford on March 1 after he was discovered by his father and remained in the paediatric intensive care unit until his tragic death three days later
‘We watched a programme where the female star had hanged herself but her friends rescued her. It made us wonder whether he had a sensationalised view of what might happen,’ Mr Salter was told.
In her evidence, investigating officer Detective Sergeant Lou Heffernan-Glover stated that she had been working on cases like Harry’s for four years and, after combing for clues, she did not think his actions were intentional.
‘I believe Harry would not have been aware how short the period is when you lose consciousness when there is pressure on the neck.
‘I think he lost consciousness unexpectedly. It could not have been predicted or prevented by his family,’ she added.
The police investigator said that Harry’s friends thought of him as bubbly but had heard him mention suicide before in a sarcastic manner.
In a series of WhatsApp messages, Harry had found out his close friend who he had a ‘crush’ on had a boyfriend and he mentioned suicide but carried on the conversation normally afterwards, Det. Sgt. Heffernan-Glover confirmed.
Harry was rushed by road ambulance from his home to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford on March 1 after he was discovered by his father and remained in the paediatric intensive care unit until his tragic death three days later.
Pathologist Dr Deirdre O’Shea confirmed the cause of death was hypoxic ischemic brain injury due to asphyxiation by suspension.
Mr Salter concluded the inquest not with a verdict of suicide but one of misadventure, saying: ‘Harry did the action himself and had made comments about suicide. However teenagers do say things of that nature.
‘There is an element of speculation but it seems to me that Harry did not intend it to be fatal. Therefore the conclusion is one of misadventure.
‘Misadventure is similar to an accident, it is the deliberate undertaking of a risk that goes wrong causing death.’
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