June 23, 2021

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It's Your Education

Boy, 12, who questioned his sexuality killed himself after being tormented by bullies

A young boy being homeschooled after repeated bullying at school tragically took his own life, an inquest heard.

Riley Hadley, 12, had been to see his GP for a routine appointment just hours before his death in October 2019.

He had become upset when a return to a Sidmouth Community College was discussed, it was said.

An inquest held at Exeter County Hall on Thursday heard how Riley had been questioning his sexuality in the months before his death.

It is believed to have made him a target for bullies, reports Devon Live.

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Riley had become upset when a return to a Sidmouth Community College was discussed

It was said that Riley had not shared any thoughts of wanting to harm himself with either of his parents.

But his friends told how he had self-harmed and made threats to in the past, but they did not believe he was being serious.

In a statement, Riley’s mum Alison Holmes told how she had been separated from his dad for around 10 years.

His older brother Jack had recently moved to Spain.

She described Riley as a “gentle, caring boy” who struggled being in large groups, and had begun being bullied while in Year 7.

She recalled how he had been hurt in the local park by bullies, on another occasion had been kicked into a road.

He was also repeatedly kicked or pushed in the corridors at school.

Miss Holmes said: “He was afraid to go to school and the local park in fear of being bullied.”



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Instead of him returning back to school after the summer holidays in September 2019, she told how she begun homeschooling him instead which had been “difficult” as she also had to go out to work during the day.

She added that in recent months, Riley had confided in her that he had begun to question his sexuality and thought he may prefer boys, which she was supporting him through.

She said: “As he was still young I did not see it as a big concern.”

There was no other problems she said that she was aware of, and added: “I think we had good relationship and he would tell me if something was worrying him.”

In the days leading up to his death, Miss Holmes said he had met up with friends at the weekend and seemed happy.



Exeter County Hall
The inquest was heard at Exeter County Hall

On the morning of his death, they had visited his doctor for a routine check-up following a change of address, during which he reported some anxiousness regarding his school situation.

Back at home, Miss Holmes said they had a conversation about whether he should go back to school or to get a tutor at home.

She recalled: “He had a cry. We talked and he seemed a bit better.”

Riley was then left alone while she went to work and on her return at around 4.10pm, she found him unresponsive and cold to the touch in his room and called 999.

A post-mortem examination confirmed the cause of his death was asphyxia due to hanging.

His dad, Jody Hadley, who Riley had chosen not to see for a few weeks, described their relationship as “very good”.

He told in a statement how he was wasn’t aware Riley was being homeschooled or was being bullied.



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He said: “I would have intervened if I knew. I spoke extensively about bullying with him, but he never said he had a problem.”

Police interviewed nearly 30 children who knew Riley and the consistent themes were bullying as he was conflicted about his sexuality, and self-harm tendencies.

But they were not aware of any comments made recently before his death.

Police concluded there was no third party involvement or criminal act in his death.

If you’re struggling and need to talk, the Samaritans operate a free helpline open 24/7 on 116 123. Alternatively, you can email [email protected] or visit their site to find your local branch