Mum of teen suicide victim slams ‘bully’ who ‘escaped justice’

A mum whose teenage son took his own life after naked photos of him were posted on the internet branded the perpetrator "a cruel bully."

Budding actor Joel Crockett-Devine ended a five-month relationship with his partner but weeks later sexual pictures of him appeared online following an acrimonious split, an inquest heard.

Joel, 19, was described by his family as "vulnerable" due to his autism, Asperger's Syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder.

His mum Ruth said he was a quiet and "introverted' teenager who enjoyed playing video games.

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After the images appeared online, Joel pleaded with the person responsible to delete them but he was told to "die" and "kill himself," the inquest heard.

On April 26, his mum discovered her son tragically hanging in his bedroom, an inquest on Friday at Liverpool Coroner's Court.

Joel was 19 when he took his own life

Today, Mrs Crockett told the ECHO she had "no words" for the person who had subjected Joel to such upset and worry before he died.

Detectives arrested an 18-year-old man and interviewed him on suspicion of disclosing private sexual photographs with intent to cause distress and a second offence of intentionally doing an act to encourage or assist suicide.

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A file was passed by police to lawyers at the Crown Prosecution Service who decided there was insufficient evidence to prosecute, a move which devastated Joel's mum.

After the inquest, the 53-year-old told the ECHO: "I feel that some sort of criminal action should have been taken.

"We are disappointed we're not going to get justice.

"Joel took his own life because of what that person did.

Joel 'adored' LFC

"I don't hate him, as I don't have the strength to hate, but I do believe that karma will come.

"I have to try to prevent what has happened to us happening to someone else."

Openly-gay Joel was a promising actor and was planning to study sports science at Liverpool Community College in the coming September.

His mum told the ECHO he broke up with his boyfriend, who is from Lancaster, in February, two months before he died.

Ms Crockett said shortly after the break-up, her son told her, 'someone has put naked pictures of me up [online].'

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Ms Crockett told the ECHO how, a few days before the tragedy, her son had become overly quiet and then asked for the sum of money, but didn't explain why he wanted it.

The mum-of-four added: "Police have told us the person who posted the photos did it to 'big themselves up and look good,' but I don't get that.

Helplines and support groups

The following are helplines and support networks for people to talk to, mostly listed on the NHS Choices website

  • Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you're feeling, or if you're worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org.
  • Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won't show up on your phone bill.
  • PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is an organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.
  • Mind (0300 123 3393) is a charity providing advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.
  • Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts.
  • Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying.
  • Hub of Hope is the UK’s most comprehensive national mental health support database. Download the free app, visit hubofhope.co.uk or text HOPE to 85258 to find relevant services near you.
  • Young Persons Advisory Service – Providing mental health and emotional wellbeing services for Liverpool’s children, young people and families. tel: 0151 707 1025 email: support@ypas.org.uk
  • Paul's Place – providing free counselling and group sessions to anyone living in Merseyside who has lost a family member or friend to suicide. Tel: 0151 226 0696 or email: paulsplace@beaconcounsellingtrust.co.uk

"Today, 17 months on since we lost him, I just feel numb.

"I'm hurt beyond words, words could ever express.

"Joel was fantastic, a fantastic actor, he loved sport, LFC, the whole city, and his friends, he was a lovely person.

"It's very difficult to draw a line under this, my life will never be the same without him, he was my shadow.

"It was very cruel behaviour, all with a malicious intent."

Joel Crockett Devine had aspirations to become an actor after doing drama at college

Coroner Anita Bhardwaj told the hearing: "There are issues of people disclosing intimate photographs and videos on social media.

"There are a number of people involved here.

"In terms of evidence, there's no proof anybody assisted or encouraged the act which Joel carried out.

"It is unclear what was in Joel's mind and if he intended to commit self-harm, but it is likely these [photos and messages] influenced him and played a part in his decision making to carry out the act.

"When carrying out the act, he did intend to take his own life."

Ms Bhardwaj recorded a conclusion of suicide.

She added: "It is a tragic loss of somebody so young who likely had a bright future in front of him."

A Merseyside Police spokesman said: "In 2019 we arrested an 18-year-old man on suspicion of disclosing private images with intent to cause distress.

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"The matter was investigated and a file was prepared for the Crown Prosecution Service who reviewed the evidence and decided there was insufficient evidence to charge.

"The arrested man was released with no further charge. The investigation was concluded and the matter was referred to HM Coroner."

His family is about to start a new charity in south Liverpool, called Joel's Goals, which will support people affected by suicide, bereavement and bullying.

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