2,500 pages of deleted Facebook messages given to gardaí

Gardaí have received 2,500 pages of deleted messages from the Facebook account of a teenager whose mother believes was cyberbullied before taking his own life.

The information came from Facebook through US authorities following an application by the DPP, an inquest heard.

Darren Hughes-Gibson, 17, was found dead at the Stephenstown Industrial Estate in Balbriggan, Dublin, on August 23, 2012.

He had been reported missing by his mother, Elaine Hughes, after he failed to return to the family home at New Haven Bay the previous night.

Det Insp Kieran Holohan of Balbriggan Garda Station said gardaí had downloaded and saved some 2,500 pages of messages sent to and from Darren’s Facebook account. The messages were deleted after his death.

“We applied to Facebook and got the information back,” he said.

The information includes messages sent after Darren’s death, Dublin Coroner’s Court heard.

“There are messages post-death that would be of interest, including mentions of bullying; friends of his making comments,” said Det Insp Holohan. The messages include inferences of harassment and bullying, the court heard.

Gardaí have identified a number of examples of “reading material” they have concerns about. Three conversations in particular “stand above” the others, the court heard. Interviews have begun and a number of statements have been taken although gardaí were experiencing difficulties contacting many of those involved.

Gardaí agreed to send a sample of complaints arising from the Facebook messages to the DPP in order to progress the case.

Det Insp Holohan said there was a legal difficulty because while there would be concerns about some messages, they might not be considered harassment in the legal sense, he said. “I’m conscious of bringing the correct closure to it,” he said.

2,500 pages of deleted Facebook messages given to gardaí

Ms Hughes said her son was bullied throughout his life for the colour of his skin and because he wore a hearing aid.

Speaking from the public gallery, she said she wanted gardaí to bring charges in order to progress the case.

“This is why we’re still in the situation we are in, nobody will follow through with charges. It’s either bullying and harassment or it’s not,” she said.

“He was a child, he can’t be here to defend himself. I should be able to give a statement on his behalf in order to follow through with the charges,” she said.

“I’m looking for closure. I want to know what happened my son. I want justice for him and if it stops it happening to anyone else. People can’t get away with it,” she said.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell adjourned the inquest until April 15 for further mention.


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