Bullied Cramlington schoolgirl was sent upsetting TikTok video week before death, inquest hears

Charley-Ann Patterson, from Cramlington, died in October 2020. Credit: Family picture

A 12-year-old girl who took her own life was sent an upsetting TikTok video just a week before her death, an inquest has heard.

Jamie Patterson, mother of Charley-Ann Patterson, from Cramlington, described how her daughter had been sent "inappropriate" messages by other pupils at her school.

Ms Patterson had previously said her daughter had been bullied and said she had struggled to get mental health in the months leading up to her death.

Charley was found dead at her home on 1 October 2020.

In a statement read to the inquest by senior coroner Andrew Hetherington , Ms Patterson said she had checked Charley’s phone in January 2020 and found a message reading: "You're useless, you can't even kill yourself properly."

Ms Patterson said: “After finding this message I spoke to Charley who said she had been receiving messages of a similar nature for a while.”

She said when she raised concerns with Charley's school, Cramlington Learning Village, she found out “several other parents had also mentioned inappropriate messages going around school”.

Charley's mother says her daughter felt "isolated" during the first coronavirus lockdown, which began in March 2019.

Charley's mother described her as 'a firecracker from day one'. Credit: Family photo

Parents had been asked to pay for a laptop to allow the children to work remotely. She said: "Charley received messages from other pupils through this Chromebook and pupils would use the ‘breakout rooms’ to privately message each other. To my knowledge this was not being monitored by members of staff.”

When she was allowed to return to school for two days a week, Ms Patterson said she asked to be moved away from one particular pupil "on a number of occasions."

She said: “One day she rang me to say the teacher had put her in the same ‘bubble’ as the pupil she was having issues with. She tried to tell the teacher, but was told as this was her bubble, it could not be changed.”

In the summer of 2020, Ms Patterson said she took away Charley's electronic devices which improved her mood and behaviour. However, it changed again when she returned to school in September. She said she noticed Charley had been deleting her messages and her call history.

She would take her own life just a few weeks later.

The family of Charley-Ann Patterson have previously said she was bullied and claimed she struggled to get mental health support. Credit: Family photo

About a week before her death, Charley went to her mother and told her about a harmful video she had been sent via TikTok.

Ms Patterson said: “She would not tell me who had sent this to her but was visibly upset by it. She said she had deleted it because she didn’t want anyone to see it.”

Earlier in the inquest, Ms Patterson had described how her daughter had been taken to a GP for support over self-harm concerns more than a year before her death.

She said after taking Charley to A&E on 29 May 2020, following a second episode of self-harm, Charley was referred to the Enhanced Psychiatric Liaison Team who offered her either a telephone call or a face-to-face appointment.

Ms Patterson was told a telephone appointment “would happen much quicker” and that during the call the next day, she was told Charley would be given a referral to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) - “but that she would go on a waiting list and it was likely that she would not be seen for three years”.

She says the appointment with the crisis team took place on 1 June 2020 where it was determined that, because Charley had no further episodes of self-harm, she would be discharged with a plan and referred to the Northumberland (Early Help) Hub. However, she told the inquest: “I have only just learned that this referral was never made.”

Ellis Parker, a nurse practitioner with the universal crisis team for children and young people at Cumbria, Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, also gave evidence at the inquest.

She carried out the call with Charley and Ms Patterson on 1 June 2020 and said she had “wrongfully thought” her colleague, who had already spoken to Charley, had already made a referral to the Northumberland Hub.

When asked if that had been a “missed opportunity”, Ms Parker said: “I think, yes it was an error on our behalf that the referral hadn’t been made.

"But I think in the time limits we are talking – four months – I suspect at best, Charley might have received an initial assessment from whatever service the hub deemed appropriate.”

At the inquest, Ms Patterson described Charley as “a firecracker from day one”, saying she was “determined to do things her own way”. She said her family was actively campaigning to reduce waiting improve mental health services for children.

The inquest continues.

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