Mother of suicide teen wants DPP review of no-charges decision
Elaine Hughes says she believes her son was bullied online due to colour of his skin
The mother of a teenager who allegedly took his own life over cyberbullying wants a review of a decision not to bring charges against any party. File photograph: Getty Images
The mother of a teenager who allegedly took his own life in apparent response to cyberbullying wants the DPP to review a decision not to bring charges against any party.
The mother, Elaine Hughes, says she wrote to the DPP seeking to appeal the decision, relating to the death of her 17-year-old son, Darren. She says she believes her son was bullied online due to the colour of his skin.
He was found hanging at the Stephenstown Industrial Estate in Balbriggan, Co Dublin on August 23rd, 2012. He had been reported missing by his mother after he failed to return to the family’s former home at New Haven Bay in Balbriggan the previous night.
Ms Hughes said she wrote the letter following Garda instructions after she was informed by the Coroner, Dr Myra Cullinane, at Dublin Coroner’s Court on January 18th last that she could appeal the DPP’s decision.
“But for the Coroner I would not have known. I was told to put my request in writing and post it to the superintendent at Balbriggan Garda Station, which I did the same day,” Ms Hughes said.
Garda Derek D’Alton told the latest inquest hearing into Darren’s death that he was not aware if the letter was received. He said Supt Noel Carolan was not available to attend the inquest.
“The normal procedure is that a letter would be handed into front desk,” the garda said, adding that there is a 28-day period during which a DPP’s decision can be appealed, and that date had now passed.
“I was only informed of the DPP’s decision a few days before the last hearing. That seems to me like an excuse. I wasn’t even told I could appeal the decision until I was advised by the coroner,” Ms Hughes said.
‘Lives have been destroyed’
“Darren was 17, he was a child, he was under my care. I should be able to speak out for him. There should be some form of justice. Our lives have been destroyed. My kids lost their brother. I lost my son. I won’t see him grow up, get married, have children. That was all taken from me,” Ms Hughes said.
Coroner Dr Crona Gallagher asked the Garda to clarify “as a matter of urgency” the status of the letter posted by Elaine Hughes seeking an appeal against the DPP’s decision. Ms Hughes said she posted the letter on January 18th.
“I’m not prepared to hear this inquest, when it’s not clear if Supt Carolan received the letter or not. We need to clarify the sequence of events in relation to the letter in question as a matter of urgency,” Dr Gallagher said.
“We cannot go ahead while there is a possibility there may be some fresh appeal open to you,” Dr Gallagher told Ms Hughes.
Previously, Ms Hughes called for a change in the law to protect children from online predators.
Dr Gallagher asked gardaí to clarify the status of an appeal sought by the mother.