A 14-year-old boy who was found hanging outside his school had been thrown out of his class just an hour before because he refused to take off his hoodie, his mum has said.
Derek Brundrett walked around the school in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for nearly an hour before taking his own life near the school’s reception.
He was found by a friend who had gone to look for him.
Just an hour before, he had been thrown out of a science class because he allegedly refused to remove a hoodie that he was wearing.
After walking around the school on his own, he entered an area known as ‘The Circle’ – part of the school grounds popular with pupils who would skip class or sneak away for a cigarette at break times.
At around 1.30pm, a friend of Derek’s went to look for him and found him by a tree.
By the time he alerted teachers, Derek was dead.
His mum, Kristina, who was on her way home when she received a phone call from police, found out the devastating news her son had died after officers visited her home.
She said she immediately went upstairs to pray, adding: ‘I’ve never had a feeling like it; it was like someone had ripped my heart out.
‘I remember being upstairs and thinking I was going to die right there and then from a broken heart.’
An inquest into Derek’s death in December 2013 is now underway.
Kristina had known her son was having difficulties. His behaviour had become increasingly erratic in the last few years.
She said he was ‘a good little boy’ but that something changed in him when he was 12 years old.
His behaviour deteriorated to the point where his mother could no longer cope with his loud and violent outbursts so she put him in foster care.
Derek went into care and started to attend the Pupil Referral Unit in Neyland, a learning centre designed for young people with more complex needs.
Kristina hoped that he would get the care and attention he needed, but his behaviour continued to alarm, and one day he climbed onto the roof of the building at the referral unit.
‘He wasn’t happy,’ says Kristina. ‘He said his time in care was like a prison sentence and he wanted to come home to live with me and finally he did in September 2013.
‘The sad thing is he was so sorry for the way he was behaving. He would tell me he was sorry for the way he was, and how he couldn’t control it. He would have fits of rage over the smallest and stupidest things.
‘But he wanted to go back to Pembroke School, so it was agreed that he would go back a year. But, within a month I was called in because of his behaviour and he was warned that he could be sent back to the referral unit.’
It was around this time that an incident at home led to Derek being put back into care. He had argued with one of his brothers and Kristina had tried to separate them.
By December 2013, Derek was back in care and his mother was becoming increasingly worried about his mental state.
On the evening of December 11, he phoned his mother.
Kristina said: ‘He was deeply unhappy. I didn’t sleep a wink that night. I actually slept next to my two other boys because I could just feel that something was very wrong.
‘The following morning at around 8.30am I called the school, trying to get someone to pass a message onto his social worker to say that Derek was really unhappy.
‘He would hide it very well at times, he would seem fine. But I called the school and asked to speak to the head of year, and I spoke to the council.
‘His social worker told me that Derek was fine but I tried to say that he wasn’t – he was in a really bad way and was really unhappy.
‘Later that morning, I had a conversation with a teacher at the school and it was agreed that someone would keep an eye on him that day until his foster carers picked him up at 3.30pm.’
That phone call took place at around 11.15am on the morning of December 12.
Kristina hoped everything would be OK, and that Derek would be collected from school as normal at the end of the day but that never happened.
When she was told the devastating news, Kristina immediately rang social services to ask: ”What have you done
to my son? You’ve let him down’.
Next month will mark the fifth anniversary of Derek’s death and Kristina is still waiting for answers. An inquest into his death has still not concluded.
It is hoped an outcome will be revealed at a hearing in the new year.
At a previous inquest hearing, the head of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services at Hywel Dda Health Board said the system had been inadequate but that improvements had since been made.
She said they would have probably ‘taken him on referral and made an assessment’ if they had known about Derek’s behaviour.
A spokesman for Pembrokeshire council said: ‘The death of a child is a matter of great concern and sadness no matter what the circumstances in which it occurred.
‘The coroner’s inquest into Derek Brundrett’s death is still ongoing and we are awaiting the outcome.
‘It is therefore inappropriate to comment further.’