Teenager found dead at Garstang home

A 14-year-old boy found dead at his home near Garstang had been struggling with thoughts about death, an inquest heard.

Wednesday, 5th July 2017, 8:10 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:44 am
Stephen Mortimer was found in the garden behind his house in Victoria Terrace, Calder Vale,

Stephen Mortimer was found in the garden behind his house in Victoria Terrace, Calder Vale, by police on January 4 after being reported missing by his parents Andrew and Caroline.

Stephen suffered from autism and had moved schools shortly before Christmas.

He had been a student at Ripley St Thomas in Lancaster but did not return to the school after July 2016.

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Lancaster Coroners’ Court heard that Stephen was “intelligent and funny” but struggled to express his anxiety and would talk about guns and death.

Ripley principal Liz Nicholls said: “Stephen settled in very well in Year 7 and was great to work with.”

This was despite “serious concerns” raised by his former primary school due to him talking about harming himself and others.

By Year 8 there were reports of Stephen becoming less enthusiastic, and he returned to school in Year 9 with a negative attitude. Stephen was given extra lessons to talk about his concerns but he was reluctant to do so.

He was becoming increasingly disturbed in lessons, began talking about killing other people and inappropriate files were found on his school computer history.

Mrs Nicholls told the inquest – led by coroner Richard Taylor – that in January 2016 she recommended that he was referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

Mrs Nicholls said Stephen increasingly talked about suicide, told staff he was going to kill them and became less co-operative and more defiant.

He became fascinated by school massacres and would write about them in journals.

Following a playground altercation, Stephen was given a five-day exclusion from school.

Over the summer Stephen’s parents informed Ripley their son would not be returning to the school.

Specialist autism consultant Lynn McCann told the inquest Stephen was “intelligent and funny and had lots of interests he liked to talk about.”

But she added that over time she became concerned about the frequency and intensity of Stephen’s outbursts.

The inquest continues.