Bullying of 12-year-old girl did not ‘cross criminal threshold’, police officer tells inquest

A police officer has said a 12-year-old-girl who killed herself “suffered some bullying” but that it did not “cross the criminal threshold”.

Detective Sergeant Lee Baldwin told an inquest that Charley-Ann Patterson (pictured) had been called names including “transy” and “boy hair,” and that people had clapped in her face to “make fun of her tics”.

Charley was found dead at home in Cramlington, Northumberland, on October 1 2020. Her parents have previously said she was bullied and claimed she struggled to get mental health support in the months before her death.

An inquest at Northumberland Coroner’s Court this week has heard Charley told a nurse she was being “bullied, pushed out and ignored” at school and online four months before she died.

On Thursday senior coroner Andrew Hetherington heard evidence from DS Baldwin of Northumbria Police, who said that during an investigation after her death, a number of people known to the family “raised concerns around Charley being bullied” by “a number of individuals”.

DS Baldwin told the inquest: “They said from what they had witnessed themselves or from what Charley had told them the bullying consisted of being called names like ‘dirty slag,’ ‘transy,’ ‘lesbian,’ ‘boy hair’ and ’emo’.

“There were also comments including ‘I hope you get run over by a bus’.”

The officer said witnesses also spoke about “people clapping their hands in Charley’s face and making fun of her tics”.

DS Baldwin told the inquest that when Charley was found dead in her bedroom, she had the word “freak” written on her hand and the television was paused on a screen that said: “I’m a misfit”.

The hearing was told police considered criminal offences including encouraging suicide and malicious communications.

But DS Baldwin said: “Although it is possible to find incidents and identify persons who have on occasions said or done something to Charley which would have undoubtedly caused some distress, none of those incidents appear to be sufficient to cross the criminal threshold.

“As a result, no prosecutions have been progressed.”

He added: “There is nothing to suggest the death was anything other than a suicide.”

On Wednesday the inquest heard that in March 2020, just before the first Covid-19 lockdown, Charley had sent an email to a staff member at her school which said: “I was wondering if I could move forms – a girl in my form keeps spreading rumours about me and I wish to move.

“Other people have started joining in and being mean to me.”

Gill Travers, designated safeguarding lead at Cramlington Learning Village, told the inquest that when asked about the email, Charley had “backtracked” and said it was “more of a case of people not talking to her”.

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