Teenager found hanged in his family’s garden after his parents seized his phone to stop him from going to bed so late

A teenage photographer took his life after
his parents confiscated his electronic
devices to stop him from always going late
to bed. Ceri Sheehan, 15, had objected at
first, arguing that he needed to hold on to
his iPad but he eventually had to give it up
after which he went to bed.
However, the next day, Ceri was found dead
in their garden by his father Michael
Sheehan at their home in St Albans,
Hertfordshire. Though his iPad was taken,
Ceri managed to hang on to his phone with
which he messaged one of his friends that
he “had something to finish”. He went to the
garden after that and hanged himself.
Mr Sheehan, a project manager, told an
inquest that he had not noticed anything
unusual about his son the day before he
found his body.
“I took Ceri and a friend to an
afternoon session of paintball. When I
picked them up they both seemed in
good spirits. I asked Ceri if he
wanted to go out to eat but he said
he’d prefer to stay in. He spent most
of the evening in his bedroom,” Ceri’s
father said.
On June 11 last year, Ceri’s parents seized
his electronic devices because Ceri’s mother
Rhian Roberts and father agreed it was the
best way to stop him from retiring late.
“Ceri argued that he should be
allowed to keep his iPad. This was
not unusual and he did give it up. I
remember he said ‘oh you don’t
understand’ but I didn’t think
anything of it at the time.”
The next day Mr Sheehan went downstairs
at around 6 a.m. to find all the lights were
on but did not find this unusual. He
assumed Ceri had gone out to take
photographs as he had mentioned he might
leave early. He then received a text from
Ben Evans, the friend Ceri had been
paintballing with the day before, stating he
was worried about him. That was when he
started to search and noticed his camera
was lying on the floor.
“I went outside and saw Ceri
hanging…halfway down the garden.”
An ambulance came soon after but he was
pronounced dead. A post-mortem exam
found the cause of death to be asphyxia.
Police officers searched Ceri’s computer and
phone and discovered he had been
messaging his friend with his phone the
evening before he was found dead.
The inquest in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, heard
that the teenager had been suffering from
depression and had attempted to overdose
on pills a year earlier. He was in regular
contact with a psychiatrist, a Dr Giovoli,
who had diagnosed him with depression,
ADHD, and Asperger’s Syndrome.
Hertfordshire Coroner Geoffrey Sullivan
concluded on Ceri’s death, saying:
“It seemed he struggled with some
behavioural problems for a number
of years but matters came to a head
in 2015 and he began to see a
psychiatrist. I can only conclude Ceri
did sadly voluntarily do this act
which brought about the end of his
life.”
In a statement, Ceri’s parents said:
“We are devastated by the death of
our son and only child Ceri. It was an
impulsive act that we are trying to
understand but will never come to
terms with. Ceri was four months
short of his 16th birthday when he
tragically took his own life. He was a
pupil at St Columba’s College, St
Albans and we are grateful to school
staff for understanding and
supporting his condition. Ceri was an
entrepreneurial teenager with a knack
for turning his hobby for photography
into an embryonic business. It is
tragic that a bright, kind and caring
boy, with so much potential, was
unable to see a future for himself.”

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