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Last Updated: Monday, 2 February, 2004, 14:42 GMT
'Bullied' schoolgirl killed herself
Gemma Dimmick
Gemma Dimmick attended Hirst High School in Ashington
The head teacher of a school where two pupils killed themselves within days of each other has defended his anti-bullying policy at an inquest.

Gemma Dimmick, 15, of Ashington, Northumberland, took an overdose of Co-proxamol painkillers in June 2003.

Two weeks earlier, 16-year-old pupil Karl Peart had committed suicide.

Both families claimed their children were subjected to persistent bullying while studying at the town's Hirst High School.

'Very, very unhappy'

But head teacher Ged Lee defended the school at the inquest hearing, saying his anti-bullying policies had been found to be "exemplary".

Coroner Ian McCreath heard Gemma was found in her bed by her stepmother, Denise, and several notes were found addressed to different people.

Mr McCreath returned a verdict of suicide following the 90-minute hearing at Wansbeck General Hospital.

He returned the same verdict last week at Alnwick Magistrates Court into the death of Karl Peart.

During Monday's inquest, Gemma's father Peter said: "She was persistently bullied by lots of people.

"The school was very aware of the fact she was very, very unhappy."

Mr Dimmick said he saw her being attacked on one occasion and said she was verbally abused by bigger girls.

Karl Peart
Karl Peart was also a pupil at Hirst High School

At previous schools there were "no great problems" he claimed.

Gemma's natural mother, Patricia, had died and Gemma lived with her father and stepmother Denise.

Her stepmother told the coroner she believed bullying was a contributory factor to Gemma's decision but she accepted there was no mention of bullying in any of the notes Gemma left.

Head teacher Mr Lee, in charge of the school since September 1999, told the inquest a thorough investigation had been carried out following the two suicides.

'Common symptom'

He said: "The school has been subjected to very extensive investigations from the Secretary of State, the local education authority and Ofsted.

"They have all said the school's procedures are exemplary."

Mr Lee said there was no evidence Gemma was bullied at school, but said she was involved in a number of disputes.

He added: "Gemma was a vibrant young lady, but she was forthright and assertive, occasionally too assertive, and she was quite capable of holding her own.

"A common symptom of teenagers is that they fall out with each other.

"Every issue that came to our attention, we dealt with robustly."





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SEE ALSO:
'Bullied' teenager killed himself
27 Jan 04  |  Tyne/Wear
School tribute to 'bullied' pupil
06 Jun 03  |  Tyne/Wear
Experts debate text bullying
18 Mar 03  |  Wales


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