An inquest into the death of Longford teenager Chloe Coleman has found there was no evidence of bullying as Longford Coroner’s Court this week recorded a verdict of accidental death.
Described as being always jovial with a happy-go-lucky character by her distraught mother, Catherine Murray, the popular first year Scoil Mhuire student was found unconscious in her grandfather’s house at 1 O’Connell’s Terrace on January 17 2011.
Claims made at the time had suggested elements of bullying may have been a factor behind the popular teenager’s death.
However, Garda Karl Foley told the inquest a full and thorough investigation was carried out by gardai at the time with a file also being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions for further direction.
Interviews were conducted with friends, neighbours, associates and the principal of her school he said, all of which returned negative results.
He said there was an incident which had come to the attention of gardai in the lead up to Chloe’s death, but this Garda Foley maintained had no bearing whatsoever on the investigation.
The court was told Chloe had spent much of the evening before talking with her mother and aunt Elaine about visiting her father, Oliver, in Leeds Prison.
The trio had also spoken at length about the death of her late uncle, Sean Murray three years earlier.
Her aunt, Elaine Coleman said she recalled Chloe going to bed at around “11 (pm) or 12 (am)” on the night of January 16 2011.
“She was her normal self. I didn’t see any problems,” she said, while also revealing she had been out playing with friends in the Mall area of Longford town just hours earlier.
One of those who accompanied Chloe at the Mall that evening was her close friend, Leanne Dempsey. In a statement read out by Inspector Declan Rock on her behalf, the Ardscoil Phadraig student remembered speaking with Chloe shortly before midnight.
“She rang me at 11:30pm or 12am and was upset over her uncle Sean Murray. Chloe did not say she was going to harm herself,” the court was told.
It was also revealed Chloe had sent two text messages to a phone belonging to Thomas Costello (now deceased) who was also in the company of Ms Murray and Ms Coleman that evening.
One of those messages sent shortly after midnight read “goodbye”. It wasn’t until around an hour later however that Mr Costello found the text on his phone. He subsequently went across to 1 O’Connell’s Terrace and knocked at the door, but upon finding no answer believed she had already gone to bed.
At around 6am the following morning, Ms Murray woke to find her daughter not in her bed.
After carrying out a search of the house, Ms Murray decided to venture across to Chloe’s grandfather’s house, Oliver Coleman whom she used to visit regularly.
The court was told the premises was vacant at the time as Mr Coleman was in the UK.
It was there that Ms Murray said she found Chloe in an upstairs bathroom area.
“People used to think we were sisters, we were that close,” a visibly upset Ms Murray said in her statement to gardai.
“She always had a smile on her face and everyone who knew her got on well with her.”
Coroner, Dr Niall Donohoe said Chloe may have been upset over her uncle’s death, but was for the most part, a “happy schoolgirl” who didn’t appear to have any underlying concerns.
“It sounds like that the text was a cry for help. She left no note and had no history of psychiatric illness. It just looks like it was a spur of the moment thing. Unfortunately, because the text was an hour late they didn’t come over when she called them,” he said.
As jurors returned from a brief adjournment to record a verdict of accidental death before expressing their sympathies to the Coleman family, similar messages of support were also conveyed by both Dr Donohoe and local gardai.