A mum has paid tribute to her “best friend” and daughter, who tragically took her own life. Annie-Rose Houghton, of Chilwell, was a beloved family member and friend, but ended her own life last year after suffering from depression and intrusive thoughts.
The 19 year old’s mum, Claire Iliffe, said that her daughter was “vibrant, chatty, and very, very caring.” Annie had grown up with animals, and had absolutely “adored” a horse named Foley, who belonged to a family friend.
But a series of events in her life led to her taking her own life and dying in September last year.
Nottingham Assistant Coroner, Gordon Clow, told the city’s Coroner’s Court on Tuesday, June 14, how “a range of stresses” and an alleged incident with her stepfather – which he has denied – gave Annie “the idea to end her own life”.
The inquest heard how Annie worked at the Tappers Harker pub in Long Eaton and had spoken of how much she loved her job. However, on September 4, 2021, she had been working a shift at the pub, when harassing phone calls targeting her and her boyfriend, Michael Atkin, were made to the pub by former friends Ella Stacey and Alex Cummings.
It was heard during the inquest that Annie had previously blocked Ella but unblocked her to tell her to stop calling the pub, as she feared it could affect her job.
Detective Sergeant Charlotte Henson of Nottinghamshire Police, who gave evidence at the inquest, explained that after doing this Annie was met with “nasty messages calling her names, calling her fat, telling her that the world would be a better place without her.”
Coroner Clow said: “They were prodding at things that were hurtful to her.” Following the phone calls, Michael reported both Ella and Alex to Derbyshire Police.
The pair subsequently appeared in Nottingham Magistrates’ Court earlier this year where Ella, of Rockford Road, Sherwood, was sentenced to five weeks in prison suspended for 12 months, with an additional order to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work. Alex, of Mill Acre Close, Ilkeston, was sentenced to a 12 month community order, a 10 day rehabilitation activity requirement and 80 hours of unpaid work.
An incident with Annie’s stepdad, Peter Iliffe, was also raised during the inquest as contributing to her state of mind the evening that she took her own life.
At her home following a shift at work, Annie was said to have lifted her top to Peter to show how much weight she had lost. He was then said to have touched her breasts, but when asked about the incident during the inquest by Coroner Clow, Mr Iliffe strenuously denied this had happened.
Det Sgt Henson explained that Annie had alluded to an issue with her stepdad in messages to her partner: “She felt troubled about what had happened, she felt sick.”
The inquest heard that it was after this incident that Annie was found dead.
She went to bed at around 2am, while Mr Iliffe stayed downstairs on the computer. He told the court that he “heard bumping and banging upstairs” before an “almighty clomp” in the early hours of September 5.
He decided not to intervene, but when he went to the bathroom shortly before 6am he found Annie on the bathroom floor. Mr Iliffe said at first he “just thought she was in a drunken slumber.”
An ambulance was called and Annie was taken to hospital, where it was found she had taken an overdose. Annie tragically died on September, 8 2021 at Queen’s Medical Centre.
Describing her daughter’s love for her horse, mum Claire said: “She didn’t ride him, she just loved to love him, groom him and look after him. She said to me a few weeks before she passed away that the horses were one of the happiest times in her life.”
She added: “She absolutely loved working at the pub, she just loved it.
“She said she wanted to have a year or so out from training and teaching because she had worked so hard at school. She did really well in her exams. She didn’t want to go to university because she didn’t want to leave me, she was my best friend as well.
“She said she would work at the pub and have a year or so out of education and then decide what she really wanted to do.”
Annie’s partner Michael Atkin said: “I loved her a lot, and the time we were together was too short. I made so many happy memories that I’m reminded of her every day still. I miss her a lot, and I still think about her every day.
“She was bubbly, fun and she was full of life and loved everything, she loved animals. You can’t really describe her, she was unique, she was just full of life.”
“Where she worked, the pub Tappers Harker, she said she wanted to do that forever and then eventually get her own pub, she loved it there so much.”
Coroner Clow concluded that Annie’s death had been a suicide and added that she “suffered a cardiac arrest which caused a brain injury that she could not survive.”
The coroner acknowledged that “she had for some years struggled with depression, anxiety and intrusive thoughts” and had taken “steps towards suicide in the past.”
The Coroner added that Annie was going through “a range of stresses and the altercation shortly before [her death] leads me to conclude that during that time heard Miss Houghton got the idea to end her own life.”
He continued: “It is of comfort to me to see what a close family she had. I hope that you will over time be able to put some closure on the facts that led to her death, she lived a life, with good friends, a partner and family around her.”
Annie’s mum Claire wants to increase awareness of the Nottingham based charity, The Tomorrow Project. She said: “It’s there to help youngsters that are going through bad times, mental health problems and everything.”
The project is a confidential and community based suicide prevention, intervention and postvention service who help those in suicide crises and those who have been bereaved by suicide.
You don’t have to suffer in silence if you’re struggling with your mental health. Here are some groups you can contact when you need help.
Childline: Phone 0800 1111. Calls are free and won’t show up on your bill
PAPYRUS: A voluntary organisation supporting suicidal teens and young adults. Phone 0800 068 4141
Depression Alliance: A charity for people with depression. No helpline but offers useful resources and links to other information
Students Against Depression: A website for students who are depressed, have low mood, or are suicidal. Click here to visit
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM): For young men who are feeling unhappy. Has a website and a helpline: 0800 58 58 58
For information on your local NHS urgent mental health helpline, visit here
Written by: thehitnetwork