Teenager who left Blackpool school amid bullying claims died after falling from Shanghai building

An inquest has been held in Lancashire into the death of a teenager described as "a little lost" who took his own life in Shanghai.

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 11:34 am

A verdict of suicide has been recorded after a 16 year old former Blackpool student died after falling from his apartment block in Shanghai.

Lancashire coroner Richard Taylor was told at an inquest in Preston today that Johnny Oliver had been bullied at school in Blackpool and faced friendship problems in Shanghai where he lived with his father Renny.

In the early hours of January 26 this year Johnny had told his father he had taken some over the counter medication and then left their apartment.

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Johnny attended Montgomery for a short period

His father got dressed and followed going downstairs, but Johnny had taken the lift higher up the building and fell to his death.

Mr Taylor said the information provided from China had read "fall from great height", but no inquest was held in China and the court had received minimal documentation with no medical cause of death.

The inquest was told Renny had worked in a number of countries over the years and most recently in China where Johnny attended school.

The pair lived in an apartment on Huang Yang Road, Pudong , New District Shanghai.

Shanghai skyline

The coroner said: "As I understand it there had been nothing the day before to suiggest there were any great concerns,."

His father replied: "Nothing to me."

The coroner described how Johnny had come into his father's room and turned on the light and told him he had taken the tablets: "He then left and you got up and got dressed and you went to look for him. I think you went downstairs, he had clearly gone upstairs. Then very tragically he was found outside."

The coroner said he understood some "quite worrying " texts to a friend were found on his phone.

Renny said there had been times when they thought of returning to the U.K. in both 2015 and in 2020. .

"Johnny's mother came out first and Johnny followed and did a term at school at Montgomery in Blackpool and was very unhappy and was bullied and we decided after he would come back to China and live with me."

The coroner said Johnny had seemed " a little lost" in his life and his father agreed and said "I think in general he seemed under a lot of pressure as most children are. It was his first year of A'levels or equivalent. I think he was under pressure to do well at school and he was doing very well.

"The problem with his friends was the primary issue. He lost the support of his friendship group at that time. He had been to see the school counsellor .The counsellor had given him some tools to try to solve it and maintain a relationship with his best friend in the group. But unfortunately the leader of the group shall we say gave Johnny's best friend an ultimatum - it's either the group or Johnny."

He said Johnny had been let down and he thought had been due to meet that friend for something to eat four days earlier but the friend did not turn up.

Johnny had phoned the school counsellor to say he felt very let down and unhappy.

He had had suicidal thoughts in the year before his death and on a return trip to the UK had written a note to himself saying he was very unhappy.

The coroner said: "It's become clear the issues Johnny had first with regard to his school work and he had issues with a friendship group he was or wasn't part of. Clearly there were family difficulties, estrangements."

His father had also been concerned about Johnny's sleep patterns noting: "For 12 months I had been encouraging him to get more sleep. He was going to bed later and getting up early."

The coroner detailed the medical cause of death as trauma and concluded it was a case of suicide. He said: "He did have a number of difficulties going on in his life, whether it be his school work, friends, family separation...there were a number of things going on in his life.I hear very sadly that for such a young man he had so many pressures upon him and as I heard from his father he was badly let down in the days before his death."

Johnny's mother and sister were also in court for the inquest. Johnny's body was brought back to the Fylde for the funeral.

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