Boy aged 14 'hanged himself after campaign of bullying'

Helen McCormack
Saturday 03 September 2005 00:37
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Over a period of five months, Shaun Noonan was headbutted, thrown into a ditch, and stamped on by pupils at Sutton High School in Cheshire, an inquest was told.

His parents, Gary and Diane Noonan, say their son's experience there was so tortuous that they asked the school authorities to move him to another school, but were refused.

He was found by his mother in April this year hanging from a rail in his wardrobe. Despite his parents' attempts to resuscitate him, he died in hospital six days later.

After his death the full scale of the bullying that he was subjected to began to emerge, and his sister Kimberley, 12, revealed that in one incident, one of the pupils made a flying drop-kick into Shaun's back while another recorded the attack on a mobile phone.

The inquest heard how Shaun's first two years at the school were happy ones, the bright, lively pupil spending his time out of class in music, dance and poetry classes.

His small clique of friends were considered by their teachers as less mature than their contemporaries, but in a pleasant, innocent way, his form tutor said.

But upon entering his third year, he began to attract the attention of various pupils, and in one incident in October last year had to seek medical help at school after being head-butted.

The perpetrator was suspended for four days. But on another occasion, when a girl who stamped on his foot insisted it was an accident, no action was taken.

The inquest heard how the problem appeared to abate after Shaun was moved to another form. The inquest was told the teenager was repeatedly asked whether he was happy, and said that he was.

But in February this year, he was again assaulted by a boy who was suspended for two days as a result. The boy's parents were also spoken to, the inquest heard.

Two months later, on Monday, 18 April, he was sent to his room, having had an argument with his sister, and was found a short time later after his mother became suspicious when she heard a bang.

The deputy coroner for Cheshire, Dr Janet Napier, recorded an open verdict, saying there was no evidence that Shaun intended to take his life.

Mr Noonan, a former soldier, and his wife, a care assistant, said outside court that their son had a happy home life, but had been targeted by one group of pupils. The couple said they have since removed their daughter from the school.

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