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Joshua Unsworth’s parents call for ban on notorious website ask.fm

TRAGIC: Joshua Unsworth, 15, was found dead behind his family home earlier this year

TRAGIC: Joshua Unsworth, 15, was found dead behind his family home earlier this year

Renewed calls have been made to close down a notorious website blamed for the deaths of bullied children.

The parents of 15-year-old Joshua Unsworth, who was found dead behind his family home in Goosnargh in April this year, have backed electronic petitions calling for Ask.fm to be banned.

Gary and Michelle Unsworth, both 47, acted after the father of a teenage girl who killed herself in Leicestershire asked the Prime Minister to look at the website.

Dave Smith said his 14-year-old daughter Hannah died last Friday after being “cyberbullied” on ask.fm, which allows users to send messages to one another without their identity being disclosed.

Michelle said: “Too many people are affected by the often cruel content of this site.

“It encourages bullying particularly of vulnerable and impressionable teenagers.”

The move comes after a coroner recorded an open verdict in the case of their son, who was discovered hanged on land in Camforth Hall Lane.

Joshua had warned that cyberbullying could push him over the edge and made an ‘anti-suicide’ video to try and help other troubled teenagers.

The year 11 student and prefect at St Cecilia’s Roman Catholic High School in Longridge was described as a “thoughtful, loving and compassionate boy” by his parents.

A hearing was held ‘in papers’, based on documentary evidence alone, at Preston Coroner’s Court on Tuesday, July 23, after they said they did not wish to attend the hearing or ask any questions, and no witnesses were called.

Area coroner Simon Jones reviewed the reports and statements and recorded an open verdict, which is appropriate when there is insufficient evidence to record any other verdicts, because the evidence fails to meet the required proof.

The evidence that a coroner seeks to record a suicide verdict must indicate suicidal intent beyond reasonable doubt.

This is a high threshold, which is often satisfied only when there is positive evidence of the deceased’s intention to kill him or herself, for example a suicide note, in the clearest circumstances where there can be no other explanation.

When this is not the case an open, also known as undetermined or accidental, verdict is returned.

Earlier this year the family of tragic Leyland teenager Anthony Stubbs, 16, who was discovered in Brickfield Wood, Leyland, in January, said they had been subjected to abuse by anonymous users of ask.fm.

The website, based in Latvia, which has been branded a ‘stalker’s paradise’, has more than 40 million users worldwide.

 

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