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Maynooth girl death inquest is adjourned

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AN inquest into the death of a 12-year-old Maynooth schoolgirl has been told there was no legal evidence she was bullied.

But the inquest heard the family of Lara Burns said she was bullied.

Lara Burns was found hanging in a barn at her home in Grange, Enfield, on 24 November 2012.

Questions were also raised by the family about her psychiatric care in the months before her death, and about the ambulance services.

Lara’s mother, Helene, clearly upset at the the Dublin Coroner’s Court on 11 December, raised questions after her statements were read out.

Coroner, Dr. Brian Farrell, adjourned the sitting until March to make further investigations.

In a statement read by the clerk, Lara’s mother said she was doing fine in primary school and her reports were always good. In sixth class she said, a few times, that one or two girls were picking on her but that she was in contact with one of them until recently.

Ms. Burns said Lara started at Maynooth Post Primary school in September 2012. But she did not want to go there and she (her mother) did not know why. Lara then told her that she (Lara) was going to see a counsellor in Maynooth but that she could not tell her mother why.

When Ms. Burns checked it out, the counsellor told her that Lara was “self harming.” The 12-year-old was wearing clothes to cover up marks on her arms and the top of her right leg, applied with a razor blade.She said Lara told her she was suffering from stress, tension and anxiety but there was no mention of bullying.

After this discussion, said Ms. Burns, she took her to a GP in Maynooth, Dr. Denise Nolan. Ms. Burns said she also enrolled her daughter in Pieta House in Lucan. Lara was still attending school and going to discos in the GAA in Maynooth and Celbridge at the time of her death. Ms. Burns also said around the time of Lara’s death she was afraid to leave her daughter alone because she had “a strange feeling.”

On the evening of her death, Lara told her she was going out to the barn to feed the horse. Later, she asked her son, Brendan, to check on Lara and he found her hanging in the barn.

In the course of her evidence, Ms. Burns said that a teacher had been “indiscreet” following an incident in the classroom in Maynooth Post Primary school, where a friend saw marks on her arms. Ms. Burns said she got a call from the school after Lara saw the school counsellor.

Asked by Dr. Farrell about bullying, Ms. Burns said that some girl’s name kept coming up. In his evidence, Garda Inspector Paul Dolan said that the matter was dealt with and finalised by the school and it went in Lara’s favour. He said Gardai found no evidence of bullying.

Ms. Burns said she had found her daughter looking for anti-depressants in the house. Towards the end of her life, she told the inquest, Lara was depressed. She had loved the outdoors, art but “there was nothing left in her life.”

Ms. Burns wanted to know what time exactly her daughter died. Evidence was given of constant efforts by her brother, Brendan, ambulance staff, both at the barn and on the way to hospital to revive Lara. Lara was pronounced dead at hospital.

Ms. Burns also questioned the actions or lack of them action taken by some medical personnel. She said she found out a doctor could not prescribe sleeping tablets to a child but but refer them to a clinical psychologist. She asked the inquest why this was not done. She also referred to conversation between Lara and a doctor over the slashing of her arms. Dr. Farrell said at this point this was not in Ms. Burns statement to the inquest. Brendan Burns said he had a good relationship with his sister, Lara. She had told him about one girl with which she had been friendly but they had fallen out. He said he advised her to block out any messages she did not want. “Apart from that girl, I did not know she was being bullied,” he said. He told Dr. Farrell that Lara had never said she was being bullied. He said he did not know Lara was self harming until it got out in school. He said his sister was upset and wanted to go to a school in Kilcock. Ms. Burns questioned the length of time it took an ambulance to reach their house.

Garda Tom Milner said that there had been a mix up because a John Deere site near the house at Grange had moved and there was a delay in the ambulance getting to the house. He said that he had assisted the ambulance to get to the M4 on its way to the hospital. Ms. Burns said that she had initially followed the ambulance to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin but that she had got there before it.

Gda Milner said he was told afterward that the ambulance initially went to the wrong address and, subsequently, took a wrong turn on the way to the hospital. He said there were no suspicious circumstances to the death. Garda Milner said there was no notes or letters left at the scene.

Dr. Farrell asked if any issues emerged from the psychologist at Pieta House and Maynooth Post Primary. Garda Milner said there was one issue in the school. It was dealt with and Lara came out favourably. He said Lara was unhappy in the school.

He said it appeared Lara did not find friends, easily. Inspector Dolan said there was no evidence of bullying or harassment, at school or on social media sites and no evidence to sustain criminal charges relating to Lara’s death.

 

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