A schoolboy cyber bully broke down in floods of tears as he begged for forgiveness from the pupil he drove to attempt suicide.

The Brighton victim tried to kill himself after his pal tricked him into falling in love with a fake internet boyfriend.

The 16-year-old took a concoction of 60 painkilling tablets after finding out he was the victim of a schoolboy prank.

Today the 17-year-old defendant, also from Brighton, sobbed uncontrollably in front of his victim at Brighton Youth Court.

Neither party can be named for legal reasons.

Ironically the bully has worked with the victims of bullying in the past. He created a fake profile about a fictitious boy named Callum on internet site Bebo and then lured his friend into a relationship with the character over a period of months last summer.

The pair exchanged messages, the explicit sexual nature of which he then revealed to friends.

Prosecuting, Suzanne Sorros said the bully told his victim all his friends, and even teachers, knew of the sophisticated prank.

She said: "This betrayal by somebody who he thought he knew, the damage of a friendship built up, the fact that he was told others had been party to this was so concerning to the victim that he didn't feel able to cope and go back to school to face his friends or teachers."

When the 16-year-old learned he was being fooled - after the bully accidentally sent him an e-mail from his own account rather than Callum's - he tried to take his own life by swallowing 30 paracetamol, 15 Buscopan and 15 ibuprofen tablets.

Tears rolled down his cheeks as the bully, standing with his mother, tried to explain his actions to his former friend.

He said: "I wish I never done it. I feel 100 per cent sorry for the pain I have caused your family. I can't contemplate what I have done to your family.

"To think I have caused someone that pain to take their life, it's just really hard to think I have done something like that. Especially when I have been working with the victims of bullying. To think I am one of those people, I am ashamed of what I have done.

"I can't explain what came over me. All I can say is that I don't recognise that person and I don't like who I was. I am wholeheartedly unconditionally sorry.

"If you ever find me doing this again, lock me up and throw away the key."

Psychologists said the attempted suicide was a genuine attempt on his life and not a cry for help.

The defendant, who has bullied another friend the same way, started the campaign in a bid to get back at his friend who had divulged personal secrets. He said he had no idea his victim had tried to kill himself until friends told him.

Defending, Jodie Blackstock said his client, with hindsight, could see his actions had been cruel, but that he had never imagined his victim would form a relationship with Callum.

She said: "It's the nature of this type of offence and the nature of the internet that it's very easy to not consider the consequences to your actions when you simply press a button. It's not possible to see the response of the victim as it would be in the playground.

"It's a dangerous virtual world for young people to find themselves having at their fingertips."

Lead magistrate Tim Chittleburgh said: "This was a piece of planned sustained harassment in public. There was a clear breach of trust and it is clear that the defendant set out to humiliate his victim.

"It was sophisticated and we don't mean that in a good way."

The bully, who pleaded guilty to a charge of harassment, was sentenced to a 12-month referral order, ordered to pay compensation of £250 to his victim, and had his laptop destroyed.