AN INQUEST will resume next month into the death of teenager Gaia Pope-Sutherland as it can be revealed that investigations into Dorset Police’s handling of her missing person case and a previous rape allegation she made have been completed.

Miss Pope-Sutherland disappeared in Purbeck in November 2017.

Despite a major search across the local area, she was found dead in bushes by a cliff-top near Swanage 11 days after she had gone missing.

An inquest into her death was opened and adjourned by senior coroner for Dorset Rachael Griffin in February 2018.

The inquest, which was told the 19-year-old died of hypothermia, has not progressed since then, however, a pre-inquest review hearing has now been scheduled to take place at 11am on Thursday, February 6, at Bournemouth Town Hall.

Justice for Gaia, a campaign group set up by Miss Pope-Sutherland’s family, posted on Twitter: “After two long years waiting in the dark and in silence, finally we have Gaia’s pre-inquest review hearing set for 11am on February 6 at Bournemouth Town Hall.

“Supporters encouraged to attend & show support for Gaia and the family.”

As reported, the Independent Office for Police Conduct is investigating Dorset Police’s response to a missing person report made in respect of Miss Pope-Sutherland and the force’s handling of a rape allegation made by Miss Pope-Sutherland.

Giving an update on the investigations, an IOPC spokesperson said: “We have completed our two investigations into complaints made by the family of Gaia Pope-Sutherland and are sharing our reports with the Coroner, family and Dorset Police.

“We will be consulting with interested persons, and hope to be in a position to issue our broad findings ahead of a future full inquest.

“Now our enquiries have concluded we would again express our condolences to Gaia’s family, and our gratitude to them and all involved for the patience shown while we have conducted appropriately thorough investigations.

“Our investigations have involved reviewing a substantial number of documents and police communications, scene visits, interviewing and gathering statements from a wide range of witnesses, and considering national and force policies.”

Miss Pope-Sutherland made an allegation of rape in 2015. The matter was investigated but police did not proceed with criminal charges.

What is a pre-inquest review?

Coroners often hold pre-inquest reviews (or hearings) in complex inquest cases, with the aim of assisting their full inquest preparation.

There is no set procedure for the hearings but they are held in the same manner as an inquest - in an open court.

They provide interested persons (typically close family of the deceased and any person or organisation whose act or omission may have caused or contributed to the death) the opportunity to be present and to hear the relevant issues.