Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Teen's Mom Tells Prison-Death Inquest about Happy Childhood, Troubled Teens

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Teen's Mom Tells Prison-Death Inquest about Happy Childhood, Troubled Teens

Article excerpt

Mom tells prison-death inquest of happy child


TORONTO - A teenager who strangled herself in her prison cell was a happy, independent child but who became obsessed with knowing details of her parentage, her adoptive mother said Wednesday.

Testifying at the inquest into her daughter's death, Coralee Smith said Ashley showed few signs of problems growing up but that changed drastically in her teen years.

"Most of her life, she was smiling and happy," Smith testified.

Coroner's counsel Marg Creal asked what Ashley liked as a child:

"Oh my goodness, what did Ashley like? Quiet time and doing her own thing. She loved her doll," Smith answered, her hands twisting a piece of paper.

"Ashley was very independent."

Beyond some report card comments that Ashley talked too much or could be disruptive in class, there were no issues at school until about Grade 8, Smith testified.

"I had no calls, no reports before that," she said.

In Grade 9, however, Ashley was expelled for disruptive behaviour, effectively ending her formal education and setting off a family quest to find help for her.

At one point, Ashley saw a psychiatrist who decided Ashley was "just a normal teenager," Smith said.

"I'm too fat and I have acne," was Ashley's take on the session, her mom said.

"Coming out of that, I'm feeling rest assured that things aren't so bad."

But the acting out would increase, and Ashley found herself in trouble with the law.

She would go to a residential facility for an assessment that was supposed to last 34 days but it ended after just 21 days because of her disruptive behaviour.

"She graduated early," Smith said ruefully.

A psychiatric report from the stay concluded: "She has a huge personality issue in emotional borderline tendencies,"

Ashley was sent home with a prescription for the drug Zoloft.

Smith said she didn't like giving her daughter drugs, and said she never saw the worst of her daughter's behaviour.

"At home, Ashley was a mom's girl."

Smith, of Moncton, N. …

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