Hanged girl, 8, was victim of bullying at primary school

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The Independent Online
A GIRL of eight found hanged with a skipping rope in her bedroom had been bullied at her primary school.

Marie Bentham was discovered dead by her mother on Saturday night two days before she was due to return to school in Irlam, Greater Manchester, after the Christmas holidays.

She was last seen alive when she was sent to her room after an argument with her five-year-old sister. Her mother, Debbie, found her hanging when she went to check on her. She rang for an ambulance and was given advice on resuscitation from the operator, who is now receiving counselling.

Last night, it emerged that Mrs Bentham had twice raised concerns about bullying at her daughter's school. Police are now investigating links between bullying and the tragedy.

A spokesman for Salford Education Authority said yesterday that the incidents were not "anything out of the ordinary" and had been fully investigated.

It is understood that Ms Bentham did not mention bullying when she spoke to police.

A police spokesman said any allegations of bullying would be considered as part of the investigation into all circumstances of the death. The results of a post-mortem examination are expected today.

Mark Carriline, director of education and leisure for Salford, confirmed the family had raised concerns last term. He said senior staff dealt with the events, which were logged."They reflect the kind of concerns which many parents raise during the course of the school year," he said.

It is understood one of the incidents involved two groups of girls at Marie's school falling out.

However, Marie's aunt, Karen Bentham, said: "Marie said that she was being bullied at school and did not want to go back."

A special assembly was held at Moorfield primary school in Higher Irlam yesterday where the head teacher, John Walsh, paid tribute to Marie, who celebrated her birthday on Boxing Day. "This is a terrible tragedy and everyone at the school is deeply upset," he said. "She was such a popular pupil."

Ms Bentham was being comforted by relatives last night.