Reepham pupil, 13, found hanged at home, inquest hears

A 'beautiful, talented' 13-year-old girl found hanging in her bedrooom appeared happy but harboured disturbed thoughts about death and dying, an inquest heard yesterday.

Mariana Stocks was a 'model pupil' at Reepham High School with a large group of friends, a boyfriend and a supportive family.

But diaries, documents and artwork found after her death painted a dark picture and police later learned she had fabricated a terminal heart condition.

Mariana, from Melton Constable, near Fakenham, was discovered hanging in her wardrobe by her mother Joanna Mitchell at 3.15pm on February 16 and died less than two hours after friends and teachers had raised serious concerns.

Recording a narrative verdict yesterday (Tuesday), Greater Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said Mariana 'died as a result of her own deliberate actions while in a disturbed state of mind.'


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Mr Armstrong said there was not sufficient evidence to conclude that Mariana had intended to kill herself, so a suicide verdict was not appropriate.

'Despite the impression that Mariana gave outwardly, there's no doubt she was a very disturbed girl,' he said. 'She was living to a certain extent in a fantasy world where there was no clear distinction between fact and fiction.'

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Mariana, who lived with her mother, younger sister and stepfather, had been off school with a headache on the day of her death, but had been in contact with her friends via text messages and calls.

Det Con Chris French, of Norfolk Police, said Mariana had sent a text message to her boyfriend the night before she died saying 'you should live like I'm still here' and he had replied 'save me a space next to you.'

Police had initially feared there had been a suicide pact between the pair but - like many of her friends - the boy was under the impression she had a terminal heart condition.

Mariana had called him and another friend at about 11.15am the day of her death, telling them 'everything was going to be ok.'

'She appears to have painted a confusing picture among friends,' Det Con French said.

Keith Owen, assistant principal at Reepham High School, said Mariana had been a 'model pupil' with good attendance and large group of friends.

A teacher at the school had immediately spoken to him at 1.20pm on February 16 after pupils revealed that Mariana had talked about harming herself.

'There was one girl in particular, she was besides herself,' Mr Owen told the inquest. 'The member of staff was worried enough to leave the class and tell me.'

Mr Owen had called Mariana's mother twice that afternoon, but was reassured when he heard she had spoken to Mariana.

Mrs Mitchell said her daughter had appeared normal in the days leading up to her death, buying a new dress, having friends over and watching television together.

She had called Mariana at 11.30am to check on her and again in the afternoon after she was contacted by Mr Owen at about 2pm.

'I said 'I will be home soon and we can talk about it then,'' Mrs Mitchell said.

Paramedics were called to the house just after 3.15pm on February 16 and a post mortem examination revealed that Mariana would have died almost instantly.

A statement released by her family said: 'We have lost a beautiful, talented daughter. She was a gift and we have had our gift snatched away. Her hopes and dreams will always be unfulfilled.

'We would like Mariana to be remembered for the caring, gentle and loving girl she was. We loved her so much and love her still. Mere words cannot express our deep and painful grief at the loss if Mariana. Each life is unique and her death brings us a unique pain.

'We loved her and cherished her but she slipped from our care. There is a hole in our world where she was and it is now an emptier place.'

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