Mum of teen suicide victim slams ‘bully’ who ‘escaped justice’


A mum whose teenage son took his own life after naked photos of him were posted on the internet branded the perpetrator « a cruel bully. »

Budding actor Joel Crockett-Devine ended a five-month relationship with his partner but weeks later sexual pictures of him appeared online following an acrimonious split, an inquest heard.

Joel, 19, was described by his family as « vulnerable » due to his autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder.

His mum Ruth said he was a quiet and « introverted’ teenager who enjoyed playing video games.

After the images appeared online, Joel pleaded with the person responsible to delete them but he was told to « die » and « kill himself, » the inquest heard.

On April 26, his mum discovered her son tragically hanging in his bedroom, an inquest on Friday at Liverpool Coroner’s Court.

Today, Mrs Crockett told the ECHO she had « no words » for the person who had subjected Joel to such upset and worry before he died.

Detectives arrested an 18-year-old man and interviewed him on suspicion of disclosing private sexual photographs with intent to cause distress and a second offence of intentionally doing an act to encourage or assist suicide.

A file was passed by police to lawyers at the Crown Prosecution Service who decided there was insufficient evidence to prosecute, a move which devastated Joel’s mum.

After the inquest, the 53-year-old told the ECHO: « I feel that some sort of criminal action should have been taken.

« I don’t hate him, as I don’t have the strength to hate, but I do believe that karma will come.

Openly-gay Joel was a promising actor and was planning to study sports science at Liverpool Community College in the coming September.

His mum told the ECHO he broke up with his boyfriend, who is from Lancaster, in February, two months before he died.

Ms Crockett said shortly after the break-up, her son told her, ‘someone has put naked pictures of me up [online].’

Ms Crockett told the ECHO how, a few days before the tragedy, her son had become overly quiet and then asked for the sum of money, but didn’t explain why he wanted it.

The mum-of-four added: « Police have told us the person who posted the photos did it to ‘big themselves up and look good,’ but I don’t get that.

The following are helplines and support networks for people to talk to, mostly listed on the NHS Choices website

« Joel was fantastic, a fantastic actor, he loved sport, LFC, the whole city, and his friends, he was a lovely person.

« It’s very difficult to draw a line under this, my life will never be the same without him, he was my shadow.

Coroner Anita Bhardwaj told the hearing: « There are issues of people disclosing intimate photographs and videos on social media.

« In terms of evidence, there’s no proof anybody assisted or encouraged the act which Joel carried out.

« It is unclear what was in Joel’s mind and if he intended to commit self-harm, but it is likely these [photos and messages] influenced him and played a part in his decision making to carry out the act.

She added: « It is a tragic loss of somebody so young who likely had a bright future in front of him. »

A Merseyside Police spokesman said: « In 2019 we arrested an 18-year-old man on suspicion of disclosing private images with intent to cause distress.

« The matter was investigated and a file was prepared for the Crown Prosecution Service who reviewed the evidence and decided there was insufficient evidence to charge.

« The arrested man was released with no further charge. The investigation was concluded and the matter was referred to HM Coroner. »

His family is about to start a new charity in south Liverpool, called Joel’s Goals, which will support people affected by suicide, bereavement and bullying.


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