Trolls torment mum of legal high death Ards teen Adam Owens
The mother of a teenager who died after taking a so-called 'legal high' has hit out at online trolls who are still making her life a misery - 18 months after she lost her son.
Adele Wallace spoke of her hurt after articles featuring false accounts of her boy's death, along with his picture, reappeared on the internet.
Her son Adam Owens (17) was found slumped on the grass in the West Winds estate in Newtownards in the early hours of April 13 last year. He was taken to hospital by ambulance but pronounced dead a short time later.
Adele said she has been tormented by trolls for the last 18 months. In one case a website used her dead son's picture without her permission in a misleading article.
It contained a fabricated version of events, even claiming the family lived in upstate New York.
The story wrongly said that Adam died from an overdose of over-the-counter anti-diarrhoea medication.
The article has resurfaced in recent days - causing Adele further grief as she struggles to cope with the loss of her son. She is mystified as to why her son's memory has been hijacked and tarnished.
Comments posted by trolls have also been hurtful for her and Adam's friends to read.
"It's disgusting. It's only sick and depraved individuals who would actually sit down and do things like that," she told the Belfast Telegraph. "It's horrible, really horrible. I don't even have the words to describe it.
"It destroys you. It's so hurtful that someone would disrespect a child's memory like that.
"I've felt every kind of emotion because of this. It's traumatic enough when you have lost your child, without having to deal with this. It messes with your mind. When you are having an okay day and then you see it and it just takes you right back to that day (when Adam died).
"We all did our best with Adam, but unfortunately it just wasn't enough."
It is understood Adam had been using legal highs for three years and his family had been trying to get him help.
After Adam's death, his family and friends campaigned for them to be banned in Northern Ireland.
His mother has spoken publicly about her son's death on several occasions and has campaigned to raise awareness of the dangers.
Following mounting pressure from several campaigns, the Government introduced the Psychoactive Substances Act, which came into force across the UK in May.
However, Ms Wallace's attempts to deal with her son's death continue to be undermined by online bullies. Adam's picture has been taken off some of the sites, but many of them still include it.
"Because it's sites over in America, there's nothing I can do," she added.
"There's no-one you can report a bad journalist to. At least over here there are bodies you can go to."
One of the websites claims it pays all writers $2 for every 1,000 views the story gets. Such websites have led to concerns that this encourages writers to sensationalise stories for clicks, disregarding truth and accuracy.