Boy took his own life after being tortured by bullies at secondary school

Northfield school in Billingham.
Northfield school in Billingham.

A 13-year-old boy hanged himself from a tree after being tortured by bullies -  the third pupil at his school to die in similar circumstances in the space of 12 months.

Arin Lyth, 13, had a condom rubbed in his face, was told to slit his wrists, endured cruel taunts about his parents on social media and had yobs hurling stones at his family home in the months leading up to his tragic death.

He told a friend on Snapchat: "No one understands, everyone hates me. My only regret is having a life."

His family said that when they reported the ordeal he was undergoing they were met with a "dismissive, arrogant" response from Northfield School in Billingham.

They withdrew Arin from the school when no decisive action was taken because they "were made to feel wrong for reporting it".

Fellow pupil Harry Gray, 15, also hanged himself in April 2016 after being bullied and Elton Harland, 13, a school friend of Harry's was found dead at home just days later after he tweeted a tribute to his pal.

At Arin Lyth's inquest today at Teesside Coroner's Court, the youngster's anxiety over his treatment by other pupils was made clear in statements from his family and friends.

In a statement to police one of Arin's two older brothers - both of whom also suffered bullying at the school - said Arin had become "shy and reclusive."

He told police: "People would come and throw stones at the house and make comments about our father. They also posted pictures of our parents in group chats that were taken from social media and would make derogatory comments about them."

He said he had been told about an occasion when Arin was pinned down by two older boys.

A friend of Arin's told police: "Two older boys in the same year group as his older brothers would tease Arin about his sexuality and would go to their home address to throw stones at the windows.

"There was also an incident in a school corridor when two boys would not let him past, they were calling him gay and asked him "why don't you slit your wrists like emos do?"

The inquest was told by another friend of an incident in which a boy had pulled a condom over his hand and rubbed it in Arin's face.

Even after switching schools to Northshore Academy, in Stockton, in December last year, Arin was targeted by another pupil, the inquest heard.

A friend told police investigators that a girl would take pictures of him on the school bus because she thought he looked like YouTube star Joe Sugg.

The friend said: "He didn't like having his picture taken, he would take the phone off her and delete the pictures and he would move to get out of her way."

The friend said that posters were then put up around the school with Arin's picture compared to that of Joe Sugg and they had to be taken down and destroyed by teachers.

On January 11 this year Arin texted his girlfriend, who was in the year below him at his original school, and told her he was going to kill himself.

She messaged him saying: "Please don't do this, your mum will be heartbroken, so will your friends and me."

Arin replied: "I am not happy with my life, I have to do this, I am so sorry."

The girl begged him to call her but when he did it was clear he was outside as she could hear the wind whistling around him.

Arin said simply: "Bye" and hung up the phone."

The youngster's body was found in the early hours of the following morning hanging from a tree by his dressing gown chord in a field behind his home in Billingham.

The cause of death was confirmed to be pressure to the neck.

After his death three boys from Northfield and the girl from Northshore who took his picture were arrested and interviewed by the police.

The girl said that she considered Arin to be a friend and that he would "have a laugh" about the pictures. She said only one poster was produced and other pictures were sent on Snapchat, which Arin was happy about.

The older youths admitted rubbing a condom on his face and confronting him in the school corridor. "Sanctions" were taken by the school but no police action resulted from any of the incidents.

Teesside Assistant Coroner Jo Wharton recorded a conclusion that Arin had committed suicide.

Family describe tragic boy as 'funny and caring'.

After the hearing Arin's family released a statement saying Arin was a "friendly, funny and caring" boy who was popular with his peers.

They added: "During his time at Northfield School, Arin suffered prolonged bullying by individuals from the school. This was an ongoing problem and was reported on numerous occasions to the school by Arin's parents and aunty.

"He was targeted at school, on the way home and even to the extent of bullies targeting him at home and prolonged attacks via social media.

"Both Northfield School and the police were made aware of all these events by Arin's family.

"Arin's two older brothers who both attended Northfield School have also been victims of bullying and again every time their parents or a family member contacted the school the response was of a dismissive, arrogant nature.

"Our family was made to feel they were wrong for reporting it."

The statement concluded: "Our family is determined in its fight to pursue justice for Arin and everyone who has supported us.

"We also want to send a clear message that bullying has no place in society and should not be tolerated and those who choose to bully should be dealt with by the authorities in the correct manner."

At Harry Gray's inquest in July last year Teesside Coroner Claire Bailey recorded a verdict of suicide.

Former Northfield pupil Elton, who was a friend of Harry's, died at home in Lancashire, where he and his family had moved, two days after his pal's death.

He was found dead on April 7 last year a day after he tweeted: "Fly high pal...you are a hero" and "RIP Harry Nicholas Gray."

A Cleveland Police spokesman said: "Following Arin’s death an investigation was launched regarding the incident including allegations of bullying. Following inquiries by police, no charges have been brought and our thoughts are very much with his family at this difficult time."