THE family of a 19-year-old who committed suicide is campaigning for a new inquest to investigate whether racist harassment contributed to his death.

The mother of Dylan Lee, with support from the Good Law Project, have brought a legal challenge against a coroner for ‘failing to investigate the impact of racist harassment on her son’s suicide.

Dylan from Stanley Crook, County Durham, tragically took his own life in May.

This came after he and his family said they had endured a persistent two-year campaign of alleged racially-motivated abuse because of their Romani Gypsy heritage.

Read more: Fire service warn residents to keep windows closed Teesport fire

Over two years, the family say they experienced glass thrown into their chicken coop, cameras pointed at their land, a petition to ‘rid the village of gypsies’, damage to their property, verbal abuse and physical intimidation, as well as what they believe was a deliberate fire started on their land.

Dylan’s mum, Jane Lee, believes her son took his own life because he felt hopeless after years of harassment, which the family felt the police never took seriously.

The inquest into Dylan’s death was carried out in August by HM Assistant Coroner for County Durham and Darlington, Mr Leslie Hamilton.

Dylan's family said, during the inquest, the coroner decided it wasn’t open to him to consider questions about why he did what he did. As a result, only part of Jane’s witness statement was read out - and the parts detailing the alleged harassment were not considered.

Witnesses from the local police force were called to give evidence, but Jane’s barrister was not able to question them about the matters that had been ruled off-limits, according to the family.

Jane said: “I reported incident after incident to the police, but they consistently failed to act. Meanwhile, we were treated like criminals for living peacefully on our own land. Dylan was upset, anxious and furious. Dylan always believed in justice and accountability. If you did right by people, you would be OK. He trusted the police, believing that if we showed them what was happening they would make it stop. But they didn’t, and he couldn’t understand it. In my view, the cumulative effect of these incidents was the single biggest contributor to Dylan’s low mood and, ultimately, his death.”

Jo Maugham, Director of Good Law Project, said: “People of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) heritage across the country disproportionately experience bullying because of their race. It can have a devastating impact on their mental health. Tragically, Dylan could not see a way out. We believe the coroner interpreted his role incorrectly. In cases of suicide coroners can, and should, consider why a person chose to take their own life. And where discrimination may have played a part, or authorities may have failed in their duty of care, it’s even more important that inquests grapple with these issues. We will fight alongside GRT communities to make sure what happened to Dylan cannot happen to other families.”

The coroner’s office for County Durham and Darlington was contacted for comment.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated County Durham Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or contact 01325 505054