A popular 12-year-old schoolboy nicknamed ‘little Superman’ was found hanging in his bedroom by his brother after his mother confiscated his mobile phone, an inquest heard today.
Cain Westcarr, of Gloucester, had spent two days arguing with his mother Veronica Lee, and was discovered just 40 minutes after saying he was going to his room to listen to music.
Beaufort School student Cain was later pronounced dead at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, but the inquest heard his act may have been a cry for help and he had not intended to take his life.
The coroner said it was a tragic case and children sometimes don’t understand the consequences of their actions. Miss Lee had taken his phone from him one morning in June last year at their home.
She tearfully told the inquest: ‘I don't think he actually wanted to kill himself. I don't think he wanted to live the life he had any more but I don't think he wanted to die. I think it was a cry for help.’
Detective Sergeant Mark Steinhouse, of Gloucestershire Police, said there were no suspicious circumstances and explained that Miss Lee had told his colleagues of the incident with the phone.
‘It was officers at the hospital who spoke to Veronica and they relayed back to myself at the address as to where the phone was,’ Detective Sergeant Steinhouse told Gloucestershire Coroners’ Court.
‘We recovered the phone and had (it) examined and didn't find anything on there of any relevance.’
The hearing was also read extracts of Cain's school report, which praised the youngster for being a ‘well respected and popular pupil’ who was ‘respectful’ and an ‘avid reader’.
The inquest heard evidence from Jackie Geatches, a family support worker at St Paul's Primary School, who knew Cain and his siblings.
Assistant Deputy Coroner Tom Osborne asked her: ‘In an incident which must happen probably hundreds and thousands of times every day throughout the country, a parent takes the mobile phone away for a short period or even if it's only until such time as you've cleaned and tidied your room or until you've done your homework, how would Cain react to that?’
She replied: ‘He probably would have been angry with his mum for taking it and perhaps sulked about it.’
Describing how she heard the news of Cain's death, Mrs Geatches said: ‘I didn't believe it at first when I heard. For one minute I don't believe Cain wanted to take his life.
‘I actually think he wanted to inflict pain upon himself. That's how I interpret it. He wanted to see how much pain he could stand and unfortunately it ended in his death.’
A post-mortem examination found Cain had died from hanging. The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death and said he could not be satisfied that Cain had intended to take his own life.
‘I hear that he is a young man with attitude, not a bad thing,’ Mr Osborne said. ‘In my own school reports I can remember people saying “attitude retarding progress” and it didn't seem to do me any harm.
‘Part of that was mum taking his phone away from him in order to tidy his room or do something he needed to do.'
Mr Osborne said he did not think Cain understood that 'if you are dead today, you are dead tomorrow'.
He added: ‘They (some children) don't realise, perhaps sometimes it's not a question of re-booting the computer and they all come back to life.
‘He obviously wanted to inflict pain upon himself or indeed pain upon his mother... "I'll show you" sort of attitude... "you've taken my phone away”.
‘I think if one considers the nature of this young man and the nature of his personality, I think it is more than likely than not this was a cry for help or a cry of punishment to his mum or to scare people and so led to an unfortunate turn of events.’