herald

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Grieving mum fears Coco's Law will be delayed by election

Jackie Fox holding a photograph of her late daughter Nicole. Photo: Picasa
Jackie Fox holding a photograph of her late daughter Nicole. Photo: Picasa

The heartbroken mum of a 21-year-old who took her own life because of bullying says she hopes new legislation in her daughter's name will not be delayed by any new government.

Over 22,000 people signed a petition to push through new laws on online bullying and harassment which were with the Equality of Justice Committee just days before the Dail was dissolved.

This could mean that the legislation - known as Coco's Law after tragic Dubliner Nicole Fox - could be pushed back to square one, according to her mum Jackie.

The draft legislation proposes a number of new offences, including taking and distributing intimate images without consent, online or digital harassment, a specific offence of stalking, an expanded offence of sending threatening or indecent messages and revenge pornography.

Jackie, who moved to Wexford recently to escape seeing people she believes were involved in a long campaign of bullying against her daughter, is hoping any new government will push the draft proposals back up to stage three to avoid any protracted delays.

Struggle

Just days ahead of the second anniversary of Nicole's death on Monday, Jackie admitted that "every day is a struggle".

Nicole endured a sustained campaign of bullying which included cigarette butts being stamped out on her feet, being dragged down a flight of stairs in a nightclub and being told to go and die in online attacks.

"She was knocked so hard into a table at a nightclub that she dislocated her hip and was elbowed in the face while out dancing," said Jackie.

"Before she went out, she'd start throwing up with nerves but then she'd put on her make-up and ask me to take a picture of her smiling because she was determined not to let them win.

"They started abusing her online, even sending her videos on how to kill herself and telling her they'd put her on life support. She'd cry in bed every night and I'd lie beside her crying too."

As Nicole was over 18 and refused to make a statement, the gardai could not act.

She took an overdose in 2015 but Jackie's world completely shattered in 2018, when she arrived home with her 14-year old son Lee to find Nicole had taken her life.

She was placed on life support but Jackie was told that the brain damage was too extensive and her organs would start shutting down.

"I knew I had only minutes and I stroked her hair, told her how much I loved her and to go in peace, that no-one could ever hurt her any more," she said.

"Every day I struggle to go on and getting this legislation is keeping me going. I hate those who did this. I hate that they are out enjoying themselves while I'm sitting in crying."

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