TWO medical experts have been requested for an inquest into the tragic death of teenager Gaia Pope.

Gaia, 19, was found dead 11 days after she went missing in a distressed state from her home near Swanage, in November 2017.

Her body was discovered by police on November 18, two days after pieces of her clothing were found nearby - with a cause of death being hypothermia.

A pre-inquest review into Gaia's death heard at the time of her disappearance she had been feeling anxious about the impending release from prison of a man she claimed raped her in 2015.

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

Swanage and Wareham Voice: Gaia Pope from Swanage

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

Dorset coroner Rachael Griffin said the full inquest before a jury will take place next year. It will not take place until at least April 25, 2022 - with a provisional end date set for July 29, 2022.

Gaia had been allocated a council social worker shortly before her death after going to STARS (Sexual Trauma and Recovery Service) because of her rape claim.

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

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

Swanage and Wareham Voice: Outside Bournemouth Coroners CourtOutside Bournemouth Coroners Court

Ms Griffin said she will use the notes if she deems them relevant.

The family enquired into 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.

Caoifhionn Gallagher, representing the family, described it as a 'matter of serious concern'.

Beatrice Collier, for Dorset Police, will be providing the inquest with a statement about the process by June 4.

Ms Griffin wanted to understand the processes behind epilepsy referrals at Southampton General Hospital, where Gaia was treated.

The coroner requested two expert witnesses, a neurologist who specialises in epilepsy and a psychologist who deals with patients suffering from PTSD.

There will be at least three more pre-inquest reviews, the first on September 10 which will deal with witnesses and the next on December 15.

A further pre-inquest review will take place on February 3, 2022 before the final inquest begins.

After the hearing Natasha Pope, Gaia's mum, said: "This long-drawn-out process is difficult for us to bear but we are confident that progress is being made. We want to make sure our tragic loss leads to positive change for others in our community."

Marienna Pope-Weidemann, Gaia's cousin, said: "What connects these things is a culture that says if the effects of ill health or abuse make it harder for us to stand up for ourselves then our rights don’t matter.

"Even if you die, no one will be held accountable. There are far too many bereaved families in this country who know this to be true. We want justice for all of them."


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