A teenage schoolboy who was tormented at school for having red hair was found hanged in his bedroom by his father, an inquest heard today.
Simon Walters was teased by classmates at Heath Park School in Wolverhampton and was even physically attacked following jibes about his red hair, a hearing was told.
The 14-year-old even dyed his hair brown in a desperate attempt to stop the abuse, only for it to get worse.
His father Nigel, 42, found Simon in the teenager's bedroom, the inquest heard.
Nigel Walters, who lived alone with his son in Wolverhampton, told the hearing his son became 'very withdrawn' in the weeks before his death, and would shut himself in his bedroom.
Mr Walters said he last saw his son alive before leaving for work at 8pm.
Heartbreakingly, he said he would always text his son from work to tell him he loved him but on that night he was too busy and never sent the message.
Speaking at the hearing at Smethwick Council House on Wednesday Nigel described the moment he found his son dead after returning home from the night shift at 4.15am.
Mr Walters, a warehouse worker, said: 'Simon's music was blaring and his lights were still on so I went upstairs to tell him to go to bed.
'I just ran downstairs screaming - I could not believe it. I was in shock.'
Mr Walters told the inquest his son was also physically attacked by his tormenters and had confronted the school about the abuse, which had been going on for over five months.
He said: 'In May last year I noticed a lump on his head, when I confronted him about it he said a boy at school hit him.
'On another occasion when I called Simon to tell him I would pick him up from school I heard children calling him names in the background.
'The phone call was really bad, lots of children were calling him names and shouting swear words, a lot of children.
'I discussed the matter with the school and was told there was a zero tolerance policy towards bullying in place.'
Mr Walters said he was reassured the matter would be resolved but the next day Simon begged his dad to go to school with him.
He added: 'He said 'father can you come to school with me?' He was terrified, he was shaking, he was crying.
'I asked if everything was OK? Afterwards and he said it was sorted.
'He was very withdrawn towards the end, it actually got me very upset and I would cry in front of him asking him: 'What is wrong – I know you have changed?'
'He used to be a jolly lad, he enjoyed telling jokes, he was a pleasant little boy and was well behaved.
'I was really concerned, he just used to always speak to me but then he stopped talking to me, he used to shut himself in his room.
'My own conclusion was that he was being threatened not to say anything.'
Simon’s grandmother Joan Walters also believed the teenager was being bullied and said she had been in touch with some of his friends on Facebook since his death.
Giving evidence she said: 'They have said he was being bullied because he wouldn’t conform to what they wanted him to do.'
A police investigation also found Simon had been teased because of his his ginger hair, and had researched how to commit suicide on the internet.
But Detective Inspector Richard Scott, from West Midlands Police, said there was not enough evidence he had been bullied by his peers.
He said: 'His school friends have told us there was teasing because he had red hair.'
Heath Park School head teacher Georgetta Holloway also told the hearing there was no evidence of bullying at the school.
She said: 'No one had seen a change, nothing was reported to his friends other than the incident in May described.
'He was a popular young man but very much a young man, he was a joker. He had a wide circle of friends.'
Recording a verdict of suicide Black Country Coroner Robin Balmain said: 'The only positive motive that comes to light is bullying.
'However, I have to say there is no clear evidence.
'Perhaps most importantly the police have been able to read his Facebook record and there is nothing that suggests he was being bullied.
'This is a tragedy for the family and also for Simon’s friends.'
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