Inquest into death of Gaia Pope, 19, will hear how she was ‘deeply upset’ that police did not bring charges against convicted paedophile she said had raped her

  • A full inquest into the death of Gaia Pope, 19,  is set to begin on Tuesday, April 26
  • Her family will hear how she was ‘deeply upset’ after police did not bring charges against a convicted paedophile she had previously accused of rape
  • Ms Pope went missing in 2017 with her body found in Dorset only days later

Ms Pope-Sutherland went missing in November 2017, and her family has waited four years to find out what happened. Her body was discovered near Swanage 11 days later, with a provisional cause of death of hypothermia

The full inquest into the death of tragic teenager Gaia Pope will hear evidence about the impact of a rape allegation on her following a coroner’s ruling.

Her pre-inquest review heard the 19 year-old was left ‘deeply upset’ after Dorset Police did not bring charges against the alleged perpetrator following an investigation.

Ms Pope-Sutherland went missing on November 7, 2017, and her body was found near Swanage, Dorset, on November 18 of that year.

She had learnt that the man she accused of rape was due to be released from prison in the Autumn of 2017 after serving a custodial sentence for child sexual offences.

The alleged perpetrator, who was imprisoned in April 2017, can not be named.

Dorset Senior Coroner Rachael Griffin said: ‘I have considered and balanced Articles 8 and 10 (of the European Convention of Human Rights) rights for all those involved.

‘I am satisfied there’s no clear and cogent evidence to divert from open justice that it would be inappropriate to make a reporting restriction order.

‘I wish to add I don’t consider it appropriate to name the person involved during the inquest.’

The pre-inquest review resumes at Bournemouth Town Hall tomorrow morning, with her full inquest starting in the afternoon.

The family has raised concerns about how police and other rescue organisations handled the search for her. Attending the inquest were: Gaia’s mother Natasha Pope (front centre), her father Richard Sutherland (back centre right), her cousin Marienna Pope-Weidemann (third left), twin sister Maya Pope-Sutherland (back row red jacket) and sister Clara Pope-Sutherland (centre right – green jacket)

It was revealed at a recent hearing that the full inquest could take up to four months.

Hundreds of volunteers, coastguards and over 100 members of Dorset police were involved in the search of the Dorset coastline for Gaia when she went missing on November 7, 2017.

Three people – two men aged 19 and 49 and a 71-year-old woman – were arrested but later cleared of any involvement in the teenager’s death.

At the time Gaia disappeared she had been feeling anxious about the impending release from prison of a man she had claimed had sexually assaulted her.

Although she reported the alleged attack to the police, nothing came of it.

Before her death, Miss Pope suffered from PTSD and epilepsy, the hearing heard.

She had been allocated a council social worker shortly before her death after going to STARS, the Sexual Trauma and Recovery Service – formerly the Dorset Rape Crisis centre – because she claimed she had been raped.  

A huge search and rescue operation was launched to find Gaia, who was missing for 11 days before her body was found

Gaia’s family enquired into any evidence from the search for Gaia’s body from police records or recordings of telephone conversations and texts between officers and members of the public

Gaia attended meetings in 2016 – the same time she was being interviewed by the police about the incident.

The family requested that Ms Griffin access the notes from Gaia’s sessions with her social worker as they believe it to be ‘relevant’ and she had not signed a confidentiality waiver.

Ms Griffin will read the notes and they will be used as part of the inquest if she deems them relevant.

They also enquired into any evidence from the search for Gaia’s body from police records or recordings of telephone conversations and texts between officers and members of the public.

Ms Gallagher, representing the family, described it as a ‘matter of serious concern’.

 The inquest will examine family evidence, pathological evidence, Gaia’s epilepsy care and care provided by the mental health team.

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