A teenage boy fascinated with an internet craze in which young people choke themselves until they pass out was found hanged in his home.

Ryan Payne, a year 9 pupil at Greenshaw High School, was discovered by stepmum Emma Payne in the bathroom of their house in Canterbury, Morden, as she returned from walking their dogs at 6pm on January 6.

The care assistant fought to revive him, but he was pronounced dead at St Helier Hospital, where she worked, an hour later.

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At an inquest into his death at Westminster Coroner’s Court on Tuesday, assistant coroner Russell Caller recorded an open conclusion and said there was too little evidence to be sure of Ryan’s intentions on the day he died.

 But the teenager’s dad Ross, a Sutton firefighter, and his wife believe his interest in the craze – known as “the choking game” – led to his death.

Mrs Payne found videos in which young people strangle themselves to the brink of unconsciousness on Ryan’s mobile phone and tablet in autumn last year.

The teen’s dad told the Sutton Guardian: “As far as I know he didn’t look at those videos again, but somehow it had stuck in his mind.”

Mr Payne is sure his son did not intend to take his life, pointing out he had asked for pizza for dinner on the day he died and was eagerly anticipating an upcoming football match in Carshalton Little League, in which the keen Liverpool and talented young sportsman was to play against his best friend’s team.

He said: “He was happy, he never had any problems, hadn’t been to see a doctor in years. 

“We checked with his school and there was no issue with bullying. This was just a terrible accident.”

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Ryan Payne with Sutton firefighter dad Ross

In a written statement to the inquest, read out by the coroner, Mrs Payne said: “[Ryan] was always quite open about how he was feeling about things.

“There was no indication that anything was troubling him. He was still child-like in his views of the world.”

The inquest heard police found an English Language exercise book in which Ryan had written about hanging a day before he died, but his father believes this was coincidental.

The couple now want to warn other parents about the choking game and have contacted a Yorkshire mum who is campaigning to raise awareness of the dangerous craze.

Selina Booth’s son Jack Pickles, 14, died last year after choking himself.
Since his death Mrs Booth has appeared on Jeremy Kyle and is raising funding to website and school visits for her campaign, Our Jack: The Choking ‘Game’.

She believes parents should take drastic measures to protect their children if they suspect they are considering trying the craze.

She said: “For those who can see all the danger signs, you can’t remove every bit of cable or belt or tie, but you could consider removing their bedroom door. 

“The game is about doing it alone, doing it in private and that is what you have to combat.”

Mr and Mrs Payne are also working with Greenshaw High School, which has held an assembly on the issue, and with Ryan’s Air Cadet unit, 219 Squadron Sutton and Cheam.

Mr Payne, who called for parents to remain vigilant and check what their children are viewing online, said: “If we can help stop it happening to just one extra person it will be worthwhile.”

Ryan’s school is also planning on planting a magnolia tree in his honour and naming a part of its all-weather sports pitch after him.

The teenager’s mum, Kerry Smith, said in January that she was “heartbroken” by his death.