My son wasn't bullied

First published in News

THE father of a teenage schoolboy who died after jumping from the roof of a six-storey block of flats says he no longer believes his son was being bullied.

Roger Crouch, who was recently appointed Stow Town Council clerk, said at the time of his 15-year-old son Dominic’s death in May last year that he thought he was being bullied.

But at an inquest in Cheltenham on Tuesday, he said he had talked to Dominic about bullying “in a roundabout way” and was sure this had not been a problem.

After the hearing, Mr Crouch, aged 55, a former director of education for Gloucestershire, said his son had been upset by ‘gay rumours’ being spread about him.

“People need to realise that what seems a joke to one young person can be very upsetting to others and schools need to be more watchful, especially in this technical age when messages can be sent out easily to numbers of others at the touch of a button,” said Mr Crouch of Manor Fields, Gretton, near Winchcombe.

The inquest heard that Dominic, a keen rugby player who played at Stow Rugby Club, left notes for his family and for everyone at his school, St Edward’s Catholic independent school in Charlton Kings. Mr Crouch said his son seemed “extremely happy” when he returned from the school trip to St Briavels in the Forest of Dean on May 17.

“He never complained about being bullied at school. I spoke to him about it in a roundabout way but it didn’t seem to be a problem.

“I had no concerns that he would ever take his own life – in fact exactly the opposite. He was tenacious and determined,” said Mr Crouch.

Det Sgt Angela Middlewood said Dominic’s phone had shown a text message sent to 999 saying he was about to commit suicide.

But she said text messages to 999, a service for the hard-of-hearing, received an automatic answer unless the numbers were registered with BT.

Recording a verdict of suicide, assistant deputy coroner Tom Osbourn said he was concerned about the automatic response to Dominic’s 999 text message. He said: “I think this was a cry for help and since Dominic’s death the automatic answer has been changed to make it clearer.”

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