Molly Russell’s father thought his daughter had ‘normal mood swings’ before her death

·3-min read

The father of schoolgirl Molly Russell has questioned how his 14-year-old daughter knew “how to get into this state” before her death.

Ian Russell was taken through his witness statement in the inquest at North London Coroner’s Court on Wednesday, in which he said he had believed Molly’s change in behaviour was down to “normal teenage mood swings”.

Molly, 14, from Harrow, north-west London, is known to have viewed material linked to anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide on social media before ending her life, prompting her family to campaign for better internet safety.

Giving evidence to coroner Andrew Walker, Mr Russell confirmed his statement was correct. It read: “All the immediate family noticed a change in Molly’s behaviour in around the last 12 months of her life.

With the benefit of hindsight, I am able to recall some instances which did not seem as concerning at the time but take on more significance now

Ian Russell

“Molly became more withdrawn and spent an increased amount of time alone in her room, but she still happily contributed to family life. Molly also found it hard to get to sleep and it appeared she was often the last of us awake.

“Like most of us, Molly often had her phone with her although we had a strict rule at home of no phones at the dining table. She used that and her iPod Touch for a whole range of things.

“I knew Molly had an Instagram account and a Twitter account as I also had accounts on these platforms and we ‘followed’ each other, as did other members of the family.

“Molly closed the Twitter account of hers that we were all following and it was only after her death that I found out she had opened another account on Twitter.

“We talked about risks from strangers online, not giving out personal details, only sharing photographs with friends, online bullying – that type of thing.

“We thought Molly’s changed behaviour in 2017 was just a reflection of normal teenage mood swings, coinciding with puberty, and although we were concerned we were not overly concerned.

“With the benefit of hindsight, I am able to recall some instances which did not seem as concerning at the time but take on more significance now.”

Molly Russell (Family handout/PA) (PA Media)
Molly Russell (Family handout/PA) (PA Media)

The coroner asked him about a conversation the pair had in the months ahead of her death.

The inquest heard that Mr Russell spoke to Molly about how she was feeling while the pair were driving together in September 2017, but she “brushed it off”.

Giving evidence, he said: “I remember talking to Molly and questioning her about the concerns we had as parents.

“They were the sort of things we may have had with her sisters or other parents would have had with their children around the world.

“I questioned her… to see if she would open up to anything that might be troubling her.

“She brushed it off and seemed to be unflustered by the question.”

After telling the court what he had seen when he found his daughter after her death, Mr Russell said: “I thought to myself, how does anyone who is 14 know how to get into this state and how does someone who is 14 know how to end her life so effectively?”