Smiles and a hug...then hours later shy Luke was dead

Joanne Ginley IT WAS a snapshot taken of two teenagers as a reminder of a precious friendship. But hours later, one of the smiling pair, 16-year-old Luke Newton-Appleby, a shy public schoolboy who suffered from chronic low self-esteem, was found dead, hanged from a tree in woods near his home. His best friend Satina Haghverdi, who is also pictured, is believed to have been the last person to see him alive. Speaking from her family home in Moortown, Leeds, after an inquest into Luke's de

"I knew that he wasn't always happy inside, but that was just the way he coped with everything.

"The night he killed himself he was very serious and emotional. He told me that he was moving away that night and we wouldn't see each other ever again.

"I said that just because he was moving, didn't mean we still wouldn't be best mates. We were joking about the old times and decided to take pictures of each other.

"He said that it would help us remember each other. After that we said goodbye and he hugged me for ages and told me that he loved me."

She paid tribute to her friend declaring: "It's just a shame that most people will never get to see how wonderful he was."

An inquest in Leeds heard how Luke was a "very loving and intelligent boy" who lacked confidence and had had issues with his

weight from the age of 11.

He had previously taken overdoses of paracetamol and Nytol on two separate occasions.

These were seen as attention seeking, rather than serious attempts to take his own life.

Luke, who was not overweight, had spent the last five years worrying about his looks and self-image and was scared of going to school, the hearing was told.

The bright pupil lived with his mother in Moor Allerton, in Leeds. It is thought Luke didn't mean to hang himself in November, last year, rather it was a cry for help which went wrong.

The inquest heard how Luke, a former pupil of Queen Ethelburga's College, York, was not considered a serious suicide risk by either his parents or doctors.

Specialist registrar Nicola Singleton, who works at the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry unit at Leeds General Infirmary, said that although Luke showed clear signs of chronic low self-esteem, she could not say he was clinically depressed.

She stressed that although he had serious concerns over his weight, he did not suffer from an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia.

However he was taking a mild anti-depressant drug to help with his anxiety.

Luke's mother Paula Newton-Appleby, said in a statement that he had been moved from Fulneck School in Pudsey, Leeds, because he

was unhappy and sent to Queen Ethelburga's College.

On the night Luke died she had a petty argument with her son and he then went to see Satina, 17.

He stayed with his best friend for just over half an hour and then went over to Gledhow Valley Woods, where he was later found.

Mrs Newton-Appleby said: "I never thought that Luke would take his own life."

The hearing was told Luke died as a result of hanging and there was nothing suspicious about the death.

Recording a verdict of misadventure, West Yorkshire coroner David Hinchliff said: "Luke's previous attempts at suicide were done in the knowledge of a safe haven.

"I believe he didn't know that he would lapse into unconsciousness within seconds and would not have been able to prevent himself from dying."

joanne.ginley@ypn.co.uk