Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Tragic Teen 'Tortured by Fake Facebook Girlfriend' Inquest Told

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Tragic Teen 'Tortured by Fake Facebook Girlfriend' Inquest Told

Article excerpt

Byline: JAMES CAIN james.cain@trinitymirror.com @JIMMYMCAIN

A TEENAGER killed himself after being told to do so by a "fake" Facebook girlfriend, grieving relatives told an inquest.

Mitchell Bowie was found dead, aged just 18, on July 31 this year at his family's home by his devastated brother. Yesterday his family said they believe his Facebook girlfriend was a "fake person" who doesn't exist - an online phenomenon known as a "catfish".

The hearing was told Mitchell had started "seeing" a girl from Liverpool who he had met on Facebook earlier this year.

But Mitchell's family told senior Teesside coroner Clare Bailey that they didn't believe the two ever met.

They added that the Facebook girlfriend constantly made excuses not to meet Mitchell and sent threatening messages claiming she "knew people" in Manchester who were "going to stab him".

"(She) was stalking Mitchell and had really done his head in," said Mitchell's sister Sinead, adding, "(She) would tell him to kill himself."

In a statement, Mitchell's brother Jay said: "She always made excuses not to meet him. She also rang the house phone constantly. When he finished her, she started torturing him."

Having heard the threats escalated to threatening to burn down his family's Redcar home, Ms Bailey asked the family: "Do you think he was scared for his life?" "Yes I do," said Mitchell's mum Lisa. The inquest at Teesside Coroner's Court heard that, later in the year, Mitchell began talking to another girl who - according to Facebook - was the cousin of his girlfriend.

On the night before he was found dead, Mitchell sent the "cousin" a picture message, apparently depicting him preparing to kill himself.

The "cousin" forwarded the picture to members of Mitchell's family.

The following morning Mitchell was found dead.

Ms Bailey said: "It would suggest that she didn't take his threat seriously because she sent it to family members rather than the police. …

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