Inquest told of troubled Poppy’s ‘desperate wish’

Poppy Bracey
Poppy Bracey

A SCHOOLGIRL with a bright future was desperate to leave foster care and return to her mum in the weeks before she was found hanged, a court heard.

An inquest at Bolton Coroner’s Court was told how tragic 13-year-old Poppy Bracey was a model student, with a particular talent for German which she hoped to teach.

But, less than six months before her death, the Lowton High School pupil’s behaviour suddenly changed, and she increasingly made references to self-harming.

In that period, Poppy, of Broadwell Drive, Leigh, became tormented about not being allowed to move back in with her mum, Denise Kelly.

And in October 2009, just after a holiday to Florida, her foster parents Karen and Steve Riley noticed she was acting out of character.

The teen, who was one of six children, began detentions, was unfocused in class and was disruptive to other pupils.

Twice in October, Mrs Riley took Poppy to the doctor, the first time because she was worried she was depressed at school, and the second time because she had found a knife under her bed, and Poppy had made reference to harming herself.

At the time of Poppy’s death, an investigation was launched after it was thought she was being bullied at school although no evidence heard in the inquest has so far backed up that suggestion.

On January 25, 2010, problems with the girl’s behaviour came to a head when teachers were informed she had taken a knife into school with her.

There had been unconfirmed reports she had stabbed a chair and had said she wanted to “stick the knife down someone’s neck and cut their throat.”

She was confronted by teachers and the school-based police officer and was excluded immediately.

On her return to school she was taken into isolation while another school was arranged.

Poppy had lived with Mr and Mrs Riley for nearly three years but in the weeks before her death she had said she didn’t want to live with them anymore and the process of finding a placement for her at a children’s home in Hindley was started.

Mr Reily told the court: “Poppy may have seen that as the first step in going back to her mum and she wanted that from the day she arrived.

“That was her desperate wish.”

Mrs Kelly added: “Poppy really wanted to come home and live with me again and she didn’t understand why she couldn’t do that, I didn’t understand it either.”

On March 1 Poppy had been allowed to visit the home she was moving into and seemed excited to everybody she spoke to about it.

Mrs Kelly added: “When she got home she rang me and seemed really positive about it. She told me about how old the other children were, that she got her own phone allowance, and that they could stay out until 11pm.

“She said she was looking forward to it but deep down I don’t know what she really wanted. She didn’t know what school she would go to and was generally confused about her future.

After visiting the home Poppy returned to the house she shared with her foster parents and everything seemed normal but was soon to take a tragic turn.

Karen Riley said: “There were no problems that evening. Poppy was in the conservatory watching the TV, I was cooking tea. Shortly before it was ready she went upstairs to her bedroom.

“Tea was on the table and I shouted her to come down but there was no answer. I shouted her again but there was still no answer.

“I thought she had her headphones on listening to music so I went upstairs, which is when I found her hanging.”

Steve Riley said “Poppy was so beautiful, caring and loving and intelligent - she could have done anything with her life.”