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08:11, 15 Oct 2015 Updated 16:25, 15 Oct 2015
By Anthony Bond, Becky Shepherd
Ashleigh Bowes, 14, who had a history of depression, kept a secret diary in which she revealed pupils mocked her because her mum used a motorbike to get home
Heartbreaking: Ashleigh Bowes, 14, died at home
A schoolgirl of 14 took a fatal overdose of prescription tablets after leaving a note in which she claimed fellow pupils were teasing her for being “poor”.
Ashleigh Bowes was suffering from anorexia and depression and claimed other girls at her high school had begun mocking her as her mother used a motorbike to get about.
She was found dead at her family’s £180,000 home in Macclesfield, Cheshire, during the summer holidays on August 30 last year after taking the overdose.
Police discovered Ashleigh had made a five minute video ‘selfie’ on her mobile phone in the hours before her death and had used search teams about overdoses on the internet.
Ashleigh Bowes pictured with brother Chris
Inquiries revealed she had had a bust up with other girls at a park eight days earlier.
The note from Ashleigh found after her death read: “I can’t believe you told xxxx I was depressed. I trusted you. I thought you would understand. I can’t stand it. You were so rude the other day. SO RUDE. When I left the park I cried. I was losing my friends. Depression hurts. Anorexia hurts. It’s nothing to joke about. Words kill…
“Taking the pss out of my food and my mum. We are poor. We can’t have the big brands like you do.. Count yourself lucky that you are so blessed. I am blessed. It is not funny to take the pss out of anorexia. Every time you teased it hurt. Watch your words.”
An inquest heard Ashleigh’s troubles began in October 2013 when she was about to go trick or treating on Halloween only for her to have a ”meltdown” claiming her to mother Susan that voices in her head were ‘telling her not to eat.”
The youngster – who attended Fallibroome Academy School in Macclesfield – was later prescribed an anti depressant after seeing her GP and was referred to The Priory for treatment for an eating disorder and depression in November 2013.
There she told her psychiatrist she was having suicidal thoughts and started taking antidepressants in February 2014 but feared classmates would find out about her treatment.
Divorcee Mrs Bowes, 43, a beauty therapist told the hearing: “Ashleigh came home very angry because she didn’t want her friends to know she was going to the Priory or seeking any treatment. She was angry that I had initiated it.
At peace: Grave of Ashleigh Bowes who died aged 14 at home in Macclesfield
“Ashleigh didn’t want her class friends to know she was going to the Priory because she felt they would tease her about it. She told me in April that her class friends were taking the mickey out of her. ‘I bought a motorbike at that point and she said they would laugh that I had that.
“There were occasions where they had arguments and I tried to intervene and she was reluctant to tell me about that. Over the summer they seemed to have more arguments. From April it was more noticeable that she was more vulnerable about her friends talking about me and she was upset. She never called it bullying but she would always come back and tell me they were teasing her about things and me in particular.”
She added: “On August 22 Ashleigh did have one bad day. She met two friends in the park and she came back quite abruptly and said that the friends had really upset her and that she was really annoyed with them but she wouldn’t tell me what they had said. She was really upset – I tried asking her to tell me what they said and she wouldn’t. She seemed to be confused. I never found out what that was all about.”
Mrs Bowes said on the night before she was found dead Ashleigh had fed her pet rabbit before going to her bedroom. The following morning the teenager was found unresponsive in bed and was pronounced dead despite efforts by paramedics to revive her. Various A 4 sized notes were found next to her – which Mrs Bowes said she had never seen prior to the tragedy.
Det Con Alison Broadbent of Cheshire Police told the hearing: ”There were significant bits of information that came up relating to a spat at a local park. When I spoke to the girls it became apparent that there had been a very minor falling out in relation to some comments that had been made.
”However when I examined the phone records and the blackberry message records it became apparent that all parties had exchanged messages they had made up and were making plans for social activities together.
“Certain items were recovered, a laptop, mobile phone and tablet. The results showed no evidence of bullying, there was nothing that I would view was indicative. There was evidence of communication with friends which I would not consider would constitute bullying. ”
Tragic: Ashleigh Bowes with mum Sue and brother Chris
Stuart Smalley, assistant principal and pastoral leader at the Fallibroome Academy, said: “I was aware of Ashleigh’s low mood and the eating disorder – but I was not aware of any other matters that may have been responsible for those issues.
“There are no records at the school of any incidents involving bullying to do with Ashleigh and from the schools perspective she was presenting fine. She seemed happy and content, none of the staff were raising a significant level of concern and we were very surprised and moved as a school by what happened.”
Helen Cox, a school nurse said: “She described having some stress in her life at the time but the stresses were parents divorcing. She didn’t mention any incidents of bullying or harassment. She said she had a good group of friends but no one close who she could confide in. She never mentioned any suicidal thoughts or plans.”
The hearing was told Ashleigh was discharged from the Priory just weeks before her death.
Miss Claire Evans, a cognitive behavioural psychotherapist, who specialises in eating disorders and depression, said: “Ashleigh’s mood would drop when she was with the peers at school, she felt she was not good enough and felt she didn’t fit in.
”She felt she was not attractive of as popular as everyone else at school and the eating disorder gave her something that separated her from the others. Ashleigh defined it as banter. She did say it did cross a line and she felt as if it was directed. She did say the girls at school were very bitchy and critical. She had fleeting suicidal thoughts where she wanted to end her distress but had not made any plans to take her own life.
“After she was discharged things were very positive and she had responded well to treatment. She was enjoying joking with friends and showed me selfie photos with friends at a party. Her mood when we last met seemed quite stable and she was looking forward to school holidays. I was shocked and distressed to hear what happened to her.”