Girl, 15, fell to death after classmates made sex claims

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The Independent Online

A private school pupil fell to her death from a bridge after classmates accused her of sleeping with another girl's brother, an inquest heard today.

Holly Grogan, 15, a pupil at St Edward's School in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, was challenged about the alleged encounter outside a PE lesson and advised not to attend a forthcoming party.



Later that day - February 16 last year - after two pupils at the £11,000 a term school had confronted her, the girl hosting the party sent Holly a text also asking her to stay away.



The following morning her father Steve Grogan learned that Holly, who was popular and enjoyed Cadets, had been found beneath the bridge over the busy A40 road, at Churchdown.



Mr Grogan told the inquest in Gloucester that a group of girls had been making her feel "undermined and uncomfortable" for six months before the sexual accusation was made.



Deputy Gloucestershire Coroner David Dooley said it appeared the girls had "set themselves up as moral arbiter on something when it was nothing to do with them."



Mr Grogan revealed that Holly, who was popular and enjoyed Combined Cadet Force, had earlier got into difficulties with friends after making up a series of stories.



She claimed that a brother had died - in fact she had a living brother, Tom, aged 17 - and that her parents were splitting up. All were untrue, Mr Grogan said.



Headmaster Dr Andrew Nash said she had been caused "great upset and embarrassment" once those lies were revealed.



Dr Nash said he had later been told about "unpleasant comments" about Holly placed online and in text messages. But that was not something the school knew of at the time, he told the coroner.



He added: "Facebook is something we worry about because it is so completely outside of our control. We know that in the evening pupils can go home and write something on it."



Dr Nash said of Holly, who found academic work hard, "I can see that her relations with friends sometimes had difficulties for her, but I cannot see we had evidence of bullying."



Describing the effect the girls' accusation has on his daughter, Mr Grogan said: "She said that their questioning and accusations upset her and made her cry.



"They said she shouldn't go to the party. Later that day she received a text from (the party host) saying it might be better if she didn't go to the party."



He added: "Her whole life revolved around friendship. You cannot underestimate how important friendships are when you are 15.



"The incident on September 16 was more a culmination of six months that Holly had felt undermined and uncomfortable by their actions and attitudes."



She had denied the sexual allegation to Mr Grogan who "tried to make light of it", he said.



The inquest at the Shire Hall, Gloucester, continues and is due to end later this afternoon.