We are a family fighting for answers about what happened to our girl, who went missing on 7 November 2017 when she was 19 years old. Eleven days later, her body was found. The coroner found she’d died of hypothermia. We call it a death by indifference.

Gaia was bright, brave, kind, creative and fiercely loyal to those she loved. She loved nature and science and she was a gifted artist. She was the sort of child who, if someone was being bullied in the playground, she’d be right over there. She was a confident person, passionate about equality and fairness and she believed in her own ability to make a difference; in everyone’s ability to make a difference, really. The lifechanging challenges she faced later as a young woman living with epilepsy and as a survivor of sexual violence inspired her to pursue a career in health and social care. She wanted to dedicate her life to others and help transform a healthcare system she felt forgotten and neglected by.

We want justice for her death and for all survivors.

Gaia developed severe post-traumatic stress and worsening epilepsy after Dorset Police chose to take no further action over her report, that she had been raped by a known sex offender who threatened to kill her family if she spoke up. Months later, Hayes was imprisoned for another child sex offense but she lived in fear of his release.

Gaia was in and out of hospital as her mental health declined. She was repeatedly hospitalised and discharged without any long-term support plan in place and was even subjected to further sexual harassment in hospital where she should have been safe. No safeguarding referral was made for her and the whole episode was kept quiet.

On 7 November 2017, the day she disappeared, Gaia had two appointments: one with her GP to ask for mental health support and another with Dorset Police to report a further incident of sexual harassment online. She was in a state of extreme distress and confusion when she went missing.

We reported immediately and called on our local community for help. Gaia’s story made national headlines, hundreds of people joined the search and thousands more took action in an enormous grassroots effort to find her. We searched for eleven days, during which time we lost what little faith we ever had in the police.


We don’t want any more families forced to fight for someone who’s been taken from you and can never be replaced. That’s why we released Gaia’s Guide: a community organising guide to help keep missing people safe; why we continue to campaign; and why we need to know the truth about what happened – and what needs to change to save lives like Gaia’s. We have won the right to a full inquest with a jury to examine this question. It will begin on 25 April 2022.

Senior Dorset Coroner Rachael Griffin has said: “It is arguable that acts or omissions by Dorset Police may have been or were contributory to Gaia’s death. I am satisfied there has been an arguable breach of the obligations under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”

The world is a darker place without Gaia but she is still a light in all our lives. We honour her memory by fighting for her rights and for the better world that she believed in.


Gaia b&w Portrait

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