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Last Updated: Monday, 18 February 2008, 17:06 GMT
Bebo bully victim in suicide bid
Bebo website
The victim was lured into a bogus gay relationship on Bebo
A teenage cyberbully drove his ex-best friend to attempt suicide by tricking him into falling in love with a fake internet boyfriend, a court has heard.

The 17-year-old posted a fake profile on the social networking site Bebo, then told friends and teachers intimate details of their online conversations.

The 16-year-old victim, from Brighton, East Sussex, swallowed 60 painkillers.

The cyberbully, who cannot be named, was given a 12-month referral order and told to pay his victim 250.

Brighton Youth Court was told the victim's life was saved by his mother, who took him to hospital.

I feel 100% sorry for the amount of pain I have caused you and your family
Defendant to victim

Psychologists later said he had made a serious and genuine attempt to end his life.

The court heard the pair fell out after the victim revealed secrets and told lies about the defendant.

The youth then set up the Bebo profile of the fake character and lured his former friend into a cyber relationship where explicit messages were exchanged.

He was found out when he accidentally sent the victim an e-mail purporting to be from the fake character from his own address.

"The victim was then told by the defendant that not only had he made up the identity but he had been talking to their friends and others around him, including his teachers," said Suzanne Sorros, prosecuting.

"Effectively he was told that all those people were colluding against him and laughing at him.

"What caused specific distress was that this included his teachers."

Laptop confiscated

A statement read on behalf of the victim's mother said it had turned her son from a fun-loving teenager into someone who was untrusting and withdrawn.

The defendant, who pleaded guilty last month to harassment, apologised in court on Monday to the victim.

"I feel 100% sorry for the amount of pain I have caused you and your family," he said.

Describing it as a prank, his mother also apologised to the victim and his family, saying: "Believe me, it will never happen again."

The court confiscated the defendant's laptop.

Chair of the bench, Tim Chittleburgh, said he hoped the case would send a message to other youngsters.

"This was a piece of planned and sustained harassment in public," he said.

"You involved or at least intimated that teachers were aware, which was vicious."


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