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Schoolboy death was prank gone wrong

A SCHOOLBOY found hanged in his bedroom did not mean to take his own life, an inquest heard.


A SCHOOLBOY found hanged in his bedroom did not mean to take his own life, an inquest heard.

Fun-loving Norden High pupil Matthew Smith was aiming to scare his parents, Lynn and Graham, by tying a belt round his neck.

But the 12-year-old's prank backfired and - despite desperate attempts to revive him by a neighbour, paramedics and doctors - he was pronounced dead on arrival at Blackburn Royal Infirmary back in September.

The inquest at Hyndburn Magistrates Court last Friday heard there was nothing unusual about Matthew's behaviour that day, apart from the usual teenage angst.

Coroner Caroline Singleton read out a written statement by Matthew's devastated mum, who was too upset to speak in court.

Mrs Smith said he was annoyed at her for putting a filling in a chocolate cake he did not like and he was also cross about not being able to wash the car, as his dad had done it.

When his parents told him to dry the dishes after tea, he complained he hadn't finished his homework.

The statement continued: "Matthew did his homework in the kitchen. Graham started teasing him about a girlfriend so Matthew teased him back. Graham was getting angry and told him to finish his homework and go to bed."

Mrs Smith later found Matthew hanged in his bedroom at their home on Oak Street, Great Harwood, and called for help.

She said: "It was all a blur. I am struggling to come to terms with his death. I do not believe Matthew had any intention to take his own life. He intended to scare me, as I would have been going upstairs shortly afterwards."

Sergeant Richard Terry, of Great Harwood Police, told the inquest he arrived to find Mrs Smith in a distressed state. He said: "We made our way upstairs. Mr Smith was there with his neighbour. One was on the phone and the other was giving CPR to Matthew."

A post-mortem examination was carried out by Dr Richard Prescott, a consultant at BRI, who said Matthew's lung showed signs of haemorrhaging and asphyxia. He also found abrasions on his neck matching the configurations of the belt.

Recording a verdict of misadventure, the coroner said: "I am far from satisfied that Matthew meant to take his own life. I have to say on balance I'm fairly confident this was an adolescent prank that went horribly wrong."

Following the hearing, Mrs Smith told the Observer: "Matthew will be very sorely missed by all of us and all his friends. We just want to get on with our lives now."


Stuart Pike
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