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By Emily Miller And Stephen Moyes
EXCLUSIVE: HER DESPAIR AT ‘FAILING’ LADS
A DESPAIRING single mum killed herself – tormented by the fear she had failed to protect her two teenage sons from school bullies.
Nicola Stoneman, 35, repeatedly complained to their school about the constant attacks and taunting.
And she even confronted the dad of a boy believed to be the bullies’ ringleader – only to be allegedly beaten up by him.
Robert Donaldson was charged with actual bodily harm. But weeks before Nicola was to give evidence against him in court, she gassed herself in a friend’s car. The charge was subsequently dropped.
Nicola’s mum Tess yesterday said her daughter’s inability to stop the bullying had left her feeling helpless and guilty.
She added: “She felt she couldn’t go on. The desperation at not being able to make it right for the two people she cared about most in the world just tore her apart.”
Tess said divorced Nicola begged her sons’ school in Basingstoke, Hants, to put a stop to the torment. But in vain.
She added: “I don’t blame the teachers personally but this whole country lacks policies to tackle bullying.”
Nicola’s boys, aged 13 and 15, were described as model pupils. But two years of bullying took a terrible toll on them.
Nicola was also at her wit’s end. She was on anti-depressants and could not sleep at night. Finally, she confronted Mr Donaldson on the school run, approaching as he sat in his car. Nicola later told friends he cuffed her around the head, knocking her to the ground. She spent two days in hospital with concussion.
Mr Donaldson yesterday admitted striking Nicola but insisted he acted in self-defence. He added: “I clipped her on the chin. She lay down in the road like she was playing dead.
“I was using reasonable force because she was acting like a nutcase.
“She had shoved my wife and grabbed me through the window. She also picked on my 12-year-old – I was acting like any husband and father would.”
When asked about the bullying claims, he said: “I don’t know what goes on in the classroom. That’s an issue for the school.”
On the day of her suicide, Nicola packed the boys off to relatives.
She bought a ring for each lad and wrote a note to say she loved them. Then she gassed herself in the garage. Her inquest said the stress over the looming court case was a significant factor in her suicide.
A month after Nicola died, the heartbroken lads were moved to a new school.
Tess, 60, later found her eldest grandson’s diary, which gives graphic details of the bullying. Tess, wiping away tears as she clutched the diary, said: “This says it all. Did bullies kill my daughter? In a sense, yes.”