Yet the bullying started very soon, first over her accent, then her ‘swottiness’.
Gabbi says: ‘She was called Australian Freak, then Boffin — which wasn’t a compliment.
Some ‘who should have acted and didn’t’ were even at the service, she says.
The other kids would take the mickey out of her because she said she liked astronomy. She used to wear a skirt that was just above the knee but they called her frumpy and frigid, so she begged me to buy her shorter ones.’Gabbi was appalled when some of the unpleasantness developed a sexual edge.
They’d laugh at how she talked to the teachers — politely.’Did Izzy want to be popular? In the playground one day, she says, Izzy was approached by an older boy who told her, “I have a 12 inch c*** and I’m going to put it in you.” ‘And boys she was starting to get interested in would ask her to post naked pictures. The first time it happened, six months before she died, Izzy came to me, really upset by it because she had thought this boy was genuinely interested in her.’‘It is an appalling site because it is completely anonymous.
She had come home in a terrible state, claiming she had been told off for bursting into tears in class. ‘My daughter gets upset in class because she is being bullied — and she is the one who gets into trouble? ’Yet you can’t read I Give Up, the poem she wrote, without seeing it as a glaring cry for help. She says: ‘It is my biggest regret that I didn’t heed the alarm bells.‘I knew she was distressed. But not once did I consider that she would do what she did.
I got through to the headmaster himself that afternoon and pleaded with him, yet again, to do something. It sounds so stupid now, but in my head I thought she wasn’t quite at breaking point because her grades hadn’t slipped at school. ‘It wasn’t easy, bringing her up on my own, but Izzy was the loveliest child: clever, thoughtful, kind.
In the weeks since Izzy’s death, some of her classmates — ‘not the ring-leaders but the ones who joined in the ganging-up, which I actually find more difficult to forgive’ — have attempted to apologise, but this has only added to Gabbi’s pain. It was sustained, relentless, cruel bullying, and she could not escape it. Then onto that awful site [a website in which users post anonymous comments on each other's profiles], and be subjected to filth.
She says: ‘One girl got in touch to say she was sorry if their silly jokes had led to this. ‘When she did come home, it didn’t stop, because it doesn’t, these days. Gabbi is angry not just at the bullies and their ‘complete lack of compassion and humanity’, but at the teachers at Izzy’s school.
I was in too much of a state to do anything other than accept it.’She asks to do this interview in St Albans, where her own mother lives.
It later transpires she has not been back to the family home in Devon since the night she ran from it, hysterical, after finding Izzy’s body.
Later that year, the Supreme Court of India stayed the decision of the Rajasthan High Court and lifted the ban on Sallekhana.