A worried teenager who regularly smoked cannabis and was fearful about the future took his own life, a coroner has ruled.

An inquest heard how Lewis Barton was laughing and joking with his parents just several hours before his body was found in the garden behind his home in Deer Park, Wigton, on December 6. He had hanged himself.

The 16-year-old was spending a lot of time with his uncle Paul, a drug-addict who, at the time, was living nearby but who himself died from an overdose exactly a week after Lewis died, the inquest heard.

A girl who was one of Lewis’s friends said he appeared unable to cope without cannabis and that he spent a lot of time smoking it.

The girl recalled a phone-call in which Lewis said he did not want to be here any more. He refused to tell his family for fear of worrying them.

She said: “In September I was really worried about him. He’d cry over little things. He seemed depressed.”

In that month, said the girl, Lewis’s uncle Paul moved to Wigton from Blackpool and the teenager saw him daily.

In October, the inquest heard, Lewis took his parents’ new car without permission and crashed it.

The girl said: “He felt he’d let his family down.”

While with his uncle, she said, she believed Lewis smoked cannabis. She said: “He was always in debt because of weed. He owed a lot of people. At different times, he used to hide from them.”

The day before he died, the girl recalled Lewis seemed happy. At 2.49am, while she slept, he sent her an emotional text message. The teenager’s body was found by his father Steven later that morning.

Mr Barton said his son was doing well at Carlisle College where he was studying to become a plasterer. He and Lewis’s mum Shirley had grounded him after he crashed the car but assured him they were more concerned about him.

In October, Mr Barton took Lewis to the GP over concerns he was irritable. Though never violent, Lewis got angry and hit walls and doors.

The GP referred Lewis to the county’s adolescent mental health service for support and counselling but they refused, saying he should instead get help from his college’s student services or Inspira.

A few days before he died, Lewis was involved in an incident at Carlisle College when he threw lime mortar at another student. CCTV showed the injured student initiated the mortar throwing.

Mr Barton said his son was worried he would be suspended, though college officials were yet to make a decision. He and his wife, who did not approve of him seeing his uncle, did not know the extent of Lewis’s cannabis use.

The night before Lewis died, there was flooding in Wigton and Carlisle. There was an appeal for people to take camp beds for flood victims to Wigton market so they agreed to do that. Mr Barton said: “We were laughing and joking about his mum not being able to put the beds up. It was just like a normal night.”

Lewis’s granddad Thomas Barton said Lewis’s uncle was a drug-addict. He said: “Whether he was giving him cannabis I don’t know. Lewis always used to go round to see him. Strange that one week later he did exactly the same thing in Blackpool. Whether he felt guilty about it all?”

Senior coroner David Roberts ruled Lewis took his own life. 

He said: “It’s difficult for me to say to what extent the abuse of cannabis might have affected him. It seems perfectly possible with a mind-altering drug like that.”

He said his parents could not have foreseen what happened.