Families upset by ‘sick, cruel people’

Anthony Stubbs, 16, who was found dead in Brickfield Wood in Leyland in January
Anthony Stubbs, 16, who was found dead in Brickfield Wood in Leyland in January

The family of a Leyland teenager who was found hanged have called for a website infested by ‘cyberbullying’ to be shut down.

Anthony Stubbs, 16, was discovered in Brickfield Wood, near Worden Park, in January.

Anthony’s grandmother Maureen Jeffears has now revealed that, in the wake of his death, the young dad’s girlfriend Charlotte Mason and his cousin Katie Smith received a torrent of sick abuse on the website Ask.fm.

The social network, branded a ‘stalker’s paradise’ because it allows anyone to post anonymous comments and questions to a person’s profile, was also the home of persistent online bullying against Joshua Unsworth, 15.

Joshua was found dead behind his family home in Camforth Hall Lane, Goosnargh, near Preston, earlier this month.

Maureen, 56, said: “This site needs shutting down.

“I know Joshua said he was getting bullied in his comments and he said what the outcome was going to be. It is awful.

“After Anthony died, Katie was still getting comments, there was even one about my other granddaughter Becky, who died 18 months earlier when she was knocked down by a car. She de-activated her account but one of her friends started getting them instead.

“When you get tragic stories like this, and this website is letting people get away with it who are driving people to suicide, it’s unacceptable.”

One anonymous user wrote on Charlotte’s page about destroying tributes left at the spot where he died.

Maureen said: “Our family and Anthony’s mum Denise were so upset by how sick and cruel someone could be – we went and the flowers had been pulled off and the cards ripped and thrown on the ground.

“It’s hard to understand people’s mentality. It brings back so much heartache.”

Maureen said: “Ask.fm say they rely on anonymous comments but my argument is everyone’s IP address is traceable.

“Whereas other sites have an abuse policy for reporting abuse, they don’t have one.

“If it can’t be shut down, there should be a policy brought into it where people can report abuse and people be brought to task for it.”

Ask.fm, which is based in Latvia, did not reply to the Guardian’s request for a comment.