School bullies in Northwich have been convicted of harassing a girl who ‘took her own life’.
The college girls, aged 18 and 17, threatened their victim with violence to her face and online between September 2015 and January 2016.
She passed away later in 2016.
The defendants also carried out similar tormenting of her friend.
As the underage defendant and victim cannot be identified for legal reasons, the Chronicle has chosen not to name the older bully or the deceased victim either.
Two other girls had been involved in the harassment, but have not been charged.
Complex and sensitive case
Presiding magistrate Frances Miller described it as a ‘complex and sensitive case’ at Chester Youth Court on June 8.
Chris Fontaine, prosecuting, said: “The case involves bullying, threats of violence and other unpleasant behaviour.”
Mr Fontaine added one of the victims ‘took her own life’ a few months later.
The abuse started with threats from the older defendant of ‘I’m going to batter you’ in early September 2015.
There were physical incidents when one of the girls was pinned up against a fence as well as intimidating messages sent online.
It escalated when the victims were attacked in the street in Northwich in October.
Grabbed girl by the hair
Having pulled up alongside, the older defendant got out of a car and grabbed one of the girls by the hair.
As her friend tried to defend her, the bully switched her target, again snatching at her hair before hitting her in the face.
Despite the victim wanting her to be prosecuted no charges were brought against the older defendant over the assault as police wanted it to be dealt with at a ‘more local’ level, the court heard.
Derek McDonald, defending, said there was an ‘ongoing investigation’ at Cheshire Constabulary into the matter.
The older bully posted a Facebook status which simply said ‘snitches get stitches’ later in October.
The victims continued to be harassed into January 2016 when they also exchanged texts about being ‘scared’. It had affected their school lives too with them missing lessons to avoid their bullies.
Mr McDonald stressed the CPS were not prosecuting ‘on the basis the girls were in any way directly responsible’ for the victim’s death.
He said: “It’s a horrible case and one that leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
“A case of this nature shouldn’t really occur and there should be enough safeguarding issues in place to prevent it happening.
“Both defendants have a great deal of remorse. They are deeply upset.”
The older defendant’s mother described how the girls had previously been ‘good friends’.
After the victim’s passing, she said her family had since been subjected to abuse themselves.
This included a brick being thrown through their window and chanting outside their house, the court heard.
A representative for the Youth Offending Service said they felt the teenagers had shown ‘genuine remorse’ and ‘understood the gravity of what happened’.
Both pleaded guilty to two counts of harassment with the fear of violence.
The older defendant was sentenced to a 12-month community order including 35 hours of rehabilitation and 120 hours of unpaid work.
The younger girl was given a year-long intensive youth referral order.
Both are subject to a five-year restraining order preventing them from contacting a number of named persons and entering certain addresses in Northwich.
They must also pay costs and a victim surcharge.
Magistrates referred any compensation amounts to be settled by a civil court.