Lauren Lelonek, 16, died by suicide at her family home in Cheshire in 2016 after enduring years of physical abuse and threats over social media, the inquest was told
A schoolgirl who hanged herself was the victim of a vicious and sustained bullying campaign, an inquest into her death has heard today.
Lauren Lelonek, 16, died by suicide at her family home in Cheshire in 2016 after enduring years of physical abuse and threats over social media, the inquest was told.
Assistant Cheshire Coroner Peter Sigee said the ‘intelligent, smart and beautiful’ teenager had been failed repeatedly.
She did not receive mental health support, her school did not immediately keep her separate from bullies, and police dropped an inquiry.
Mr Sigee said all were ‘missed opportunities’ but he was ‘not certain’ whether they would have altered the tragic outcome.
Two girls, aged 17 and 18, were both given community punishments after admitting harassing the victim for six months in the lead-up to her death.
The 18-year-old was reported to have began a protracted campaign of bullying against the Miss Lelonek, including pinning her against a fence by her throat, dragging her to the floor by her hair and booting as she lay on the ground.
The hearing heard that Miss Lelonek and her friend Libby Boland were targeted by the two bullies, who they had previously been friends with.
The bullies reportedly began waiting for them outside of their school, the University of Chester Academy, in Northwich until Miss Lelonek confided in family members that she was too frightened to leave the house alone in case something happened.
The hearing heard that Miss Lelonek and her friend Libby Boland were targeted by two bullies who they had previously been friends with
Following their daughter’s death in 2016, Ian and Sarah Lelonek, told reporters: ‘They would wait for her outside school and make threats.
‘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.’
Almost three and a half years after her death, a coroner found that there were chances for Miss Lelonek’s school, the police, and healthcare providers to step in.
Despite calls to the police and meetings with her school, the schoolgirl’s parents Mr Lelonek said little was done to help their daughter.
Warrington Coroners’ Court heard Miss Lelonek was found hanging at the home she shared with her parents and four siblings.
Recording his conclusion of suicide at the end of a four-day inquest in Warrington, coroner Peter Sigee said: ‘Lauren was an intelligent, smart and beautiful girl who was caring and supportive of those around her.
Almost three and a half years after her death, a coroner found that there were chances for Miss Lelonek’s school, the police, and healthcare providers to step in. Despite calls to the police and meetings with her school, the schoolgirl’s parents Mr Lelonek said little was done to help
‘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.’
Miss Lelonek’s family were present in court as evidence was heard, detailing shortcomings in the now-dissolved University of Chester Academies Trust anti-bullying policy, as well as Cheshire Police’s investigations.
Mr Sigee said: ‘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 the healthcare providers about substantial changes that have been made since, and largely as a result of, Lauren’s death.’
Earlier in the hearing, the court heard from Lauren’s parents about her kind and caring nature.
Sarah Lelonek said: ‘She was a kind, honest, caring girl with a big heart, who always put others before herself.’
Ian added: ‘We have lost the most beautiful, kind-hearted young lady you could ever meet. I am blessed to say she was my daughter.
Libby, who said the pair supported each other during the bullying campaign, told the court in a statement that Lauren was ‘just amazing’.
‘There are so many good things to say about her,’ she said. ‘She was the most caring person I ever met.’
For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123, visit a local branch or go to samaritans.org