An inquest has determined that a Grimsby teacher took his own life after being targeted by a stalker who directed “vile, homophobic abuse” at him.
Simon Cremen, who worked at John Whitgift Academy, was found dead by a life-long friend on 6 June 2021.
The 38-year-old math teacher’s death followed him being subjected to homophobic harassment from Darren Capers, Grimsby Live reported.
‘Desperation engulfed him’
On Friday (28 July), at an inquest at Grimsby Town Hall, coroner Paul Smith said: “Desperation engulfed him [Simon]. This vile, homophobic abuse and behaviour, which appeared to be escalating, I’ve no doubt gave him concerns.
“It appears he deliberately and intentionally made the decision to end his own life and I record the formal cause of death as suicide.”
Cremen moved into teaching in 2019 after leaving his position as a branch manager for Halifax – where he helped raise thousands of pounds for charities and the LGBTQ+ community – due to mental-health issues.
According to the inquest, Capers began stalking Cremen in May 2021. This made it difficult for the teacher to walk around the local area due to feeling unsafe. Over the course of the month, the threats escalated, leaving Cremen even unable to go to the shops.
Reading a statement at the inquest that expressed how the harassment had affected him, his friend and fellow teacher, Emma Winford, who discovered the body, added: “I’m gutted, he was my best friend.”
His family said his “smile made everyone else smile”, with his mum, Sandra, adding: “When the police came to tell us what happened, I couldn’t believe it, we were distraught.”
Of Capers’ behaviour, she said “If it wasn’t for all this, I don’t think [Simon] would have done what he did.”
His dad, Vince, added: “It’s been terrible. There is no resolve, we just have to learn to cope with it.”
Following Cremen’s death Bi Pride UK posted a tribute on Facebook which described him as “the most energetic, fun loving and fabulous volunteer and friend”.
His friend, Katie Burton, told Grimsby Live: “He advocated for people suffering from bullying and stood up to the world. He was always on the end of the phone for a rant, giggle or advice, and always left you feeling happy, bubbly and in good spirits.”
In December, Hull Crown Court heard that Capers, 39, had threatened to bomb Cremen’s house and smash the windows. The court was shown a video of Capers shouting insults at the teacher.
Capers, of Fortuna Way, Grimsby, admitted stalking, causing serious harm or distress, between 12 May and 7 June 2021. Jailing him for four years, Judge John Thackray said: “You were terrorising him and, understandably, your actions had a profound effect upon him.
“You caused distress and misery to your victim in the final days and weeks of his life,” the news outlet reported.
According to police figures, in 2021-2022 reports of homophobic hate crimes more than doubled in five years, rising from 10,003 in 2016-17 to 26,824.
Despite the rise in anti-LGBTQ+ violence, Galop’s 2021 Hate Crime report showed that only one in eight queer victims of hate crime reported the incident to the police.