Family of teenager found dead at Gloucestershire home call for law to protect children

Ellen Roome and Matthew Sweeney with their son Julian Sweeney known as Jools.
-Credit: (Image: Ellen Roome)


A Cheltenham family are calling for a new law and signatures to a petition after the death of their son. Julian Sweeney passed away suddenly in 2022 with parents Ellen Roome and Matthew Sweeney devastated.

Having no idea why Julian ('Jools') died, Ellen has fears that their child viewed harmful content on social media. Residing in Charlton Kings, Ellen wants the public to help get signatures for a #JoolsLaw petition which will need to reach 100,000 signatures before parliament officially dissolves for the general election campaign.

100,000 signatures are needed for a petition to be considered for debate in parliament. An inquest in 2022 found that Julian, who was in year 10 at Balcarras School, 'probably' on the balance of probabilities did not intend to end his life.

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Police who investigated the death of Julian could find no reason why he would deliberately take his own life and he left no note to explain his actions the inquest in Gloucester heard two years ago. The inquest added that Julian was not being bullied.

The assistant Gloucestershire Coroner, Roland Wooderson, said at the time that on the balance of probabilities he did not believe Julian intended to end his life. “Julian was taken to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital where he died on April 13. The police have confirmed there was no third party involvement, no suicide note was found and the family could not offer any explanation."

Julian Sweeney (Jools). Mother Ellen Roome does not understand why the smiley happy boy that an hour and a half before she spoke to him was absolutely fine and had been playing with friends all day is no longer here.
Julian Sweeney (Jools). Mother Ellen Roome does not understand why the smiley happy boy that an hour and a half before she spoke to him was absolutely fine and had been playing with friends all day is no longer here. -Credit:Ellen Roome

Mother Ellen Roome says that when Julian took his life in 2022, at the time the new Coroner's powers to request social media access were not in force.

Through the petition, Ellen thinks this is too late. "Since my son's death, I have not been able to access information to see what my son was looking at that could have contributed to him taking his own life. Parents should have the right to full access to their child's social media accounts either whilst they are still alive (to protect them) or if they die as in my case."

Ellen adds: "I am just left with no answers. I do not understand why the smiley happy boy that an hour and a half before I spoke to him was absolutely fine and been playing with friends all day is no longer here."

The government has changed the law so the Coroner has the right to request information from social media companies. Alex Chalk MP for Cheltenham and Lord Chancellor in a statement said: "We have changed the law to give coroners additional powers to access social media accounts in devastating cases to this. Having spoken to Jools' mother, I have written to the Attorney General to invite her to request a fresh inquest to help give the family the answers they deserve."