Prank ends in tragedy

Michael Taylor
Michael Taylor

A FLEETWOOD teenager found hanged at his home was the victim of a prank gone wrong, an inquest heard.

Only hours before his death, 16-year-old Michael Taylor was laughing and joking with friends – but a few hours later his body was discovered hanging from a washing line at his home in Shakespeare Road.

A verdict of accidental death was recorded by Simon Jones, deputy coroner for Preston and West Lancashire, at an inquest into the tragic incident.

He said: “Whatever reason he had for doing what he did, whether it was a prank or a joke, I’m entirely satisfied it was not done with the intention of taking his own life.”

Following the verdict, his mother Mary Stirzaker paid tribute to her young son.

She added: “He was a lad with his problems but he was a good sort and people really liked him and loved him.

“He was a good lad. He would help old ladies with their bags if he saw them struggling and if they offered him money he wouldn’t take it.”

Michael’s body was discovered in the rear garden of his home at around 12.45am on October 28. Written evidence from Tina Woods, a specialist nurse dealing with sudden deaths in childhood, said the family had described him as a prankster who loved climbing through windows and on the roof.

She said Michael, one of six children, had been devastated by the death of his father from cancer when he was 12 and had to leave his dad’s home in Blackpool and return to his mother.

She added: “His brother went to a horror film that night and he might have been thinking he planned to scare him.”

“It could be his tragic death was a result of a prank which went wrong.”

Det Insp Vicki Evans told the inquest she had interviewed friends who saw him in the hours before his death and they said he was his normal self.

One told her he was smiling, as always, and throwing his arms round everybody. Michael was found hanged by a white cord and pathologist Dr Mark Sissons said there were marks on his neck which indicated he might have tried to remove it.

There was a modest amount of alcohol in his body and signs of cannabis – although that could have been taken up to four weeks earlier.

Social worker Shelley Hume, who went to see him the day before his death, said: “He was in a good mood. He was laughing and joking.”

The court heard he had been given a place at Blackpool and The Fylde College and was due to attend the following Monday.

Following the hearing his mother described how the pair had an argument after he sneaked friends into the house the day before he died and she never saw him alive again.

She added: “We had a row and then he went off and that was the last time I saw him.

“I didn’t want him going down the wrong path, and taking cannabis is going down the wrong path.”