source: Express & Star
published: 15 July 2022
The family of Gaia Pope-Sutherland have criticised the police after an inquest found she had died from hypothermia hours after running away from her home while suffering a mental health crisis.
They said Dorset Police had failed the teenager when she reported she had been raped and also failed her in the first two days after she went missing in Swanage in November 2017.
The 19-year-old’s family blamed a decade of austerity cuts and called for the force to create a specialist unit to investigate rape and serious sexual offences.
“For two years, they did nothing but fail Gaia. They failed to prosecute her rapist. They failed to treat her with respect,” cousin Marienna Pope-Weidemann said.
“They failed, as did Dorset Healthcare, to take safeguarding action or offer support with continuing harassment from the known child sex offender she had reported for rape and threats to kill.
“Gaia’s story epitomises all that is wrong with British policing and cuts to the heart of why public confidence has never been so low.”
Dorset Coroner’s Court heard Miss Pope-Sutherland, who suffered from severe epilepsy, was reported missing from her home in Swanage on November 7 2017.
A search operation was launched and on November 18 her body was found by police search teams in undergrowth between Dancing Ledge and Anvil Point, close to the Swanage coastal path.
A free guide developed by Gaia’s family and friends, designed to help loved ones when someone goes missing.
Justice for Gaia
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