Gaia’s Inquest


The inquest into Gaia’s death was held in Bournemouth and lasted for 12 weeks, 26 April – 15 July 2022. One of the longest individual inquests in British history, it unearthed more than 50 missed opportunities in Gaia’s care and the search for her, as well as at least two officers who still work for Dorset Police who secretly altered the search records after Gaia’s death.

The inquest was held with a jury under Article 2 (Right to Life) of the European Convention on Human Rights because senior Dorset coroner Rachael Griffin said it was “arguable that acts or omissions by Dorset Police may have been or were contributory to Gaia’s death.” But we did not get the “full and fearless” investigation we were promised.

From the outset, the coroner directed that the failures of Dorset Police prior to Gaia’s disappearance be protected from scrutiny by the jury. She refused the police whistleblower, ‘Officer X’, who revealed Gaia’s contact with the Dorset Police that day, the anonymity they said they needed to come and give evidence. We had to fight tooth and nail to keep the issue of sexual violence on the table and at one point the coroner even tried to order bereaved relatives to use gaslighting language like “Gaia believed she was a survivor of rape” but we refused to be complicit in the same culture of denial and disbelief that killed her.

[Content Note: this video contains calls to emergency services that may be distressing.]

The jury sat through 8 weeks of evidence about a litany of police failures in the search, which by Dorset Police’s own admission was deficient and disorganised. Only one failing was considered by the police to amount to misconduct, that of acting sergeant Sean Mallon, who took literally no action to assist or direct anyone else to assist in the search for Gaia during his shift on the night she disappeared. He has since retired from the force with full benefits.

Despite all this, at the end of the inquest, the coroner prohibited the jury from considering whether any of these failings even possibly contributed to Gaia’s death. We consider this to be the single greatest opportunity missed, failing us, Gaia and the public interest.

The jury was unanimous in their support for the family’s position on every issue that was left to them. They found that Gaia’s death was probably caused by her mental state and “situational crisis” on the day she disappeared and that the failure to refer Gaia for community mental healthcare after she was hospitalised a fortnight before, possibly contributed to her death. The conclusions also recorded a series of failings admitted by both Dorset Police and Dorset Healthcare University Trust.

Media highlights

📰 The police failed my cousin, Gaia Pope. Five years on they are still failing survivors

📰 Gaia Pope’s family draw up list of 50 missed chances to save teen found dead

📰 Gaia Pope’s family call for change after inquest highlights missed chances

📰 Sisters of Gaia Pope: “We felt helpless. She felt she wasn’t listened to.”

📰 Ambulance call on day Gaia Pope went missing failed to ensure her safety

📰 Gaia Pope inquest: police officer admits altering search logs

📰 Gaia Pope feared she would never be believed over alleged rape, inquest told

📰 Police warned Gaia Pope about trauma of pursuing rape claim, inquest hears

📰 Police officer disciplined for misconduct admits failings in Gaia Pope inquiry

📰 Police delays could have affected chance of finding missing Gaia, inquest hears

📰 Officer tells court of regret at grading Gaia Pope-Sutherland medium risk

📰 Police search expert denies rushing Gaia Pope-Sutherland inquiry to go home

📰 Gaia Pope: Police sergeant admits mistakes in missing teen search

📰 Gaia Pope: doctor tells inquest of ‘failure of communication’ within NHS

📰 Gaia Pope sexually harassed while on psychiatric ward, inquest jury told

📰 Psychiatrist tells inquest he regrets not giving Gaia Pope mental health referral

Admitted Failings

Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust accepted that there were missed opportunities in terms of the assessment and onward plan of care on 22 October 2017, specifically:

  1. Not discussing the assessment with Gaia’s family;
  2. Not making a referral to Steps to Well Being;
  3. Not liaising with the neurology/epilepsy team involved in Gaia’s care, which resulted in further missed opportunities to open up an opportunity to review her epilepsy care and refer her for consideration of an electroencephalogram (EEG); and
  4. Not fully updating the GP about the outcome of the Mental Health Act assessment.

The following failings were admitted by the Chief Constable on behalf of Dorset Police:

  1. The second call made by Talia Pope (101 call at 16:24) should have been treated as a report of a missing person.
  2. Once Gaia had been reported as a missing person, she should have been graded as High Risk, not Medium.
  3. The Dorset Police response in the first 24-48 hours following Gaia being categorised as a missing person was deficient in that it was disorganised and lacked clear strategy, leadership and focus. Proper leadership and focus in particular would have provided the opportunity for: 
    • Oversight of the investigation and search efforts by senior and specialised personnel at an earlier stage
    • Resources within Dorset Police and through partner agencies to be mobilised and allocated to the search for Gaia at an earlier stage
    • The scale of the search for Gaia to have been escalated at an earlier stage

What we said before the inquest

Four years of waiting. Three closed-door reports, two from the Independent Office for Police Conduct and one from Dorset Healthcare Trust. And now, at last, time’s up. 🌈

Come along to hear for yourself and in support of Gaia’s family. 

📍 Where: Town Hall Annexe, St Stephen’s Road, Bournemouth BH2 6EA.

📆 When: We expect court to be in session every day from 10am Monday-Thursday, 26 April until 8 July inclusive.

This will be a traumatic ordeal for us but with your support we hope the inquest can finally give us some answers about what happened to Gaia and what needs to change to save lives in future. ⚖️


  • Attend the inquest, which is open to the public, to hear the evidence for yourself and support the family
  • Share media coverage and posts on facebook, twitter or instagram to help raise awareness and encourage friends to follow us on social media
  • Take action online here to support the campaign


An inquest is a formal investigation conducted by a coroner to determine how someone died. Inquests are held only in certain circumstances, such as deaths by unnatural causes or in the care of state agencies. It is an important principle of open justice that inquests are open to the public and to the press.

Inquests do not determine criminal responsibility but they can still be very important when it comes to defending human rights and the public interest. When combined with support from the public and local community, past inquests like those of Stephen Lawrence, Connor Sparrowhawk and Seni Lewis to name just a few, have helped pave the way for lifesaving changes to the law.


Gaia’s inquest will be held in front of a jury under Article 2 (Right to Life) of the European Convention on Human Rights. What is known as an Article 2 inquest is only held when the coroner believes there is a case to be made that the state bears some responsibility for the person’s death.

Senior Dorset coroner Rachel Griffin says: “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.”

Not all inquests are held under Article 2 and even those which are often last just a few days. The fact Gaia’s is scheduled to last for 10 weeks reflects the complexity of this case and just how much important evidence has come to light that we can expect to hear about.


✨ To find out more about Gaia’s story go to

✨ For all the latest updates, follow us on twitter @JusticeForGaia

✨ If you are a journalist who is interested in covering the inquest, please contact us at and ask to join our press list. Please respect the family’s privacy by only reaching out through Justice for Gaia.

Inquest into death of Dorset teenager Gaia Pope to open (via INQUEST)

Opening 26 April 2022 (Sitting four days a week, see notes)
Scheduled for three months (to 8 July 2022)

Gaia Kima Pope-Sutherland, 19, was reported missing on 7 November 2017 in Swanage, Dorset. Following a police investigation and a public search for Gaia in which thousands of people participated, her body was found 11 days later less than a mile from where she was last seen.

Gaia had a history of mental ill health and was a survivor of rape. Her family have concerns about the response of relevant authorities to this, as well as the police response to her subsequently going missing.

Over four years later, following various investigations by the Independent Office for Police Conduct and others, the final hearing of the inquest into her death will open on Tuesday 26 April 2022 before HM Senior Coroner Rachael Griffin and a jury. This will follow a final pre-inquest review hearing the day before.

Over the following months of evidence, the inquest will examine issues surrounding Gaia’s death including:

  • Gaia’s personal and medical history
  • Gaia’s epilepsy treatment and management
  • The impact of the rape allegation on Gaia from 2015 onwards
  • Gaia’s mental health treatment from 2015 onwards
  • The events of 7-18 November 2017 to cover Gaia’s disappearance and the search up to and including the discovery of her body, with a focus on 7-11 November when she could possibly have been alive
  • Dorset police control room operations
  • The actions of Dorset Police officers and control room staff including the evaluation of risk
  • Training in relation to missing persons within Dorset Police

The inquest will also consider the missing persons’ policy, procedure and operations, as well as the response of Dorset Search & Rescue (DORSAR) and Coast Guard, and the memorandum of understanding between them and police. 

As well as examining the missing persons investigation, the coroner and jury will hear evidence from Gaia’s family and professionals involved in her care, and from expert witnesses on mental health and epilepsy. 

Gaia’s family describe her as a bright, brave, kind, creative and loving. The challenges she faced as a young woman living with epilepsy and as a survivor of sexual violence had inspired her to pursue a career in health and social care.

In a joint statement, the family of Gaia Pope said“For four years we have been left with questions no grieving family should ever have to ask. Our hearts are shattered to have Gaia taken from us in this way, before she ever got the chance to step beyond the shadow of what was done to her.

There are no words for that kind of loss, particularly not when we hear from so many other survivors that they are still denied access to justice and support.

We need to know if more could have been done to protect Gaia and so does our community, who worked so tirelessly to find her. These are matters not just of our private grief, but of public concern.

We hope the inquest will give Gaia the voice she so deserved in life and help save the lives of others in the future. As painful as it is for us, it’s worth it if it leads to the positive change she wanted.”

Sarah Kellas, of Birnberg Peirce solicitors who represent the family, said“Gaia’s family have waited four long years for this inquest to take place. It is hoped that they will now get the answers they so desperately need, and effect real change for the future.

Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST, says: “Gaia’s death raises serious questions about the response of authorities to women in crisis, which go far beyond her local area. We hope this inquest will deliver truth for this family, and inform change to prevent future deaths and harms against women.”

This press release was issued by the charity INQUEST and is also available via their website.

BBC Report: anonymous police whistleblower reveals Gaia called police several times the day she disappeared

An anonymous police whistleblower known only as Officer X says that Gaia called Dorset Police several times on the day she vanished and that on at least one occasion they simply hung up on her. No records of these calls had been disclosed to us and have been kept secret from us for four years after Gaia’s death. We are deeply grateful for the courage and integrity of Officer X which could save lives in future and we call on others to speak up. 🌹


The Justice for Gaia manifesto, which puts forwards demands around policing, mental health and social support, was created because lives like Gaia’s are still being risked and lost because of outdated policies, devastating funding cuts and a toxic culture of misogyny within many of our public services.  

The manifesto emerged from what we learned during the inquest into Gaia’s death, as well as talks with leading womens’ rights organisations, mental health experts and disability rights campaigners about what needs to change to save lives like Gaia’s. We are demanding that survivors get the support they deserve and that their voices are heard so we can all live in safer and fairer communities. 

Dorset Police: Failing Survivors

Dorset Police has one of the worst rape conviction rates in the country. Over the past 10 years, the number of sex offenses reported to them has doubled but the number of charges they bring has halved. Sex offenses are the most commonly reported form of criminal offense in Dorset but the force still has no specialist rape unit.

In 2020 they only pressed charges in 28 of the 782 rape reports they received and according to data obtained via a Freedom of Information request from Justice for Gaia, of 2058 sexual offences recorded by the Dorset Police 2019-2020, only 46 resulted in criminal charges.

We keep a log of relevant stories as they appear in the press. You can scroll through here and click the link to access the full story.

In Brief

Click here to access an interactive map of sexual and violent crime in the Dorset area. These are the most frequently reported crimes in many Dorset towns. 

In Detail

Content Note: contains descriptions of assault and sexual violence *

Dorset policeman guilty of gross misconduct after relationship with abuse victim

A Dorset policeman has been found guilty of gross misconduct after “abusing his position of trust” to form “relationship” with domestic abuse victim he met through his duty as a police officer. He also admitted sending confidential information to people outside of the force

Dorset Police 999 call over rapist’s behaviour before attack

Dorset Police were found to have no case to answer having been warned about a dangerous predator just hours before he raped a woman in a public street in Poole. No officers attended despite a concern for welfare report having been submitted. A description of the man and woman had been obtained and an incident log created but it was closed a short time later by a supervisor.

Dozens of Dorset Police employees working despite domestic abuse allegations

Dozens of employees are still working at Dorset Police despite being accused of domestic abuse, figures reveal.

The statistics, obtained in an investigation by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and ITV, reveal more than 1,300 police officers and staff across the UK were reported for domestic abuse between January 2018 and September last year. This included 30 police officers or staff members from Dorset Police. Two officers or staff members received some form of disciplinary action as a result of the allegations against them.

Dorset Police 999 call over rapist’s behaviour before attack

In April 2022, Dorset Police were found to have no case to answer having been warned about a dangerous predator just hours before he raped a woman in a public street in Poole and no officers attended despite a concern for welfare report having been submitted.

A description of the man and woman was obtained and an incident log was created but closed a short time later by a supervisor. The 999 call was made by a witnesses who had been approached by Kyoybasha a short time earlier on the morning of September 5 last year.

She dismissed his advances before he switched his attention to the victim, who was aged in her 30s. After he “pestered, badgered and followed” the lone female for an hour and 45 minutes, Kyoybasha raped her outside a building near Pottery Junction in Poole.

Dorset Police officer touched female colleagues inappropriately

In January 2022, another Dorset police officer was found guilty of gross misconduct for sexually harassing female colleagues and “would have been dismissed by the force had he not already resigned.” An internal investigation established that between 2019 and 2021 he had made a large number of harassing comments of a sexual nature to female colleagues around the force directly in person and via messages, and sexually assaulted multiple women.

Dorset Police civil servant jailed for grooming underage girls online

A FORMER civil servant who worked for the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner has been jailed for repeatedly engaging in sexual communications with two underage ‘girls’.

Jason Rory Samuel Mumford, aged 47, thought he was messaging a 12-year-old girl named ‘Toby’ and a 13-year-old girl named ‘Paris’ – sending them videos of himself performing sexual acts and also inviting them to perform lewd acts on themselves.

Dorset Police superintendent found guilty of gross misconduct after claiming thousands of pounds of false expenses

In November 2021, a Dorset superintendent was found guilty of gross misconduct after claiming thousands of pounds of false expenses. Not a gender-based violence issue but still it doesn’t inspire much confidence, does it?

Dorset Police office to face gross misconduct charge related to Sarah Everard investigation

October 2021 – The officer posted details of an interview given by Couzens before he pled guilty to the abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, which the police watchdog says may “have brought discredit on the police service and potentially interfered with the course of justice.”

Dorset Police officer jailed after strangling a woman to death 

October 2020 – The trial heard the injuries would have resulted from significant force to the neck for a minimum 10 to 30 seconds and possibly longer. As a “trained and experienced” road traffic police officer, Brehmer would have known Parry was seriously injured yet did nothing to help her, the judge said. He could not have thought, as he said in his police interview, she was “simply taking a breath”, the judge added. “You must have known that her body had gone limp after your assault on her. Before you walked to the car park entrance you must have seen how she was hanging half out of the car.”

Parry had “fought hard” against Brehmer, “if only for a short while”. Brehmer had stabbed himself three times with a penknife. The judge said he had sought at the scene to blame Parry for stabbing him, lying to police and others at the time. “These lies were in my view particularly serious,” the judge added, given Brehmer’s job. 

Dorset Police inspector Billy Bulloch guilty of gross misconduct

May 2020 – AN INSPECTOR carried out a “fundamental betrayal” to the public and policing when he abused his position as an officer to engage in sexual activity with members of the public and Dorset Police.

Hairdresser, 44, who was killed by her ex in her salon was ‘let down’ by police who took her phone and left her an easy target, coroner says

February 2020 – “The family of hairdresser Katrina O’Hara today slammed the police for their ‘serious failings’ that allowed her violent ex-boyfriend to murder her. Ms O’Hara’s three children said they will ‘always feel let down’ by police who they suggested had brushed their mother’s fears about Stuart Thomas ‘under the carpet’.” 

Married police detective, 41, is sacked after sexually assaulting unwilling female colleague in her own home and having ‘inappropriate contact’ with her

February 2020 – The most serious allegation involved the officer turning up at the woman’s flat unannounced where he sexually assaulted her. After being let in he grabbed hold of the woman, kissed her and then lifted her up onto the breakfast bar. He then removed her top and bra, touched her breasts and ‘dry humped’ her. The woman feared the detective would rape her.

Two Dorset Police officers found guilty of gross misconduct 

January 2020 – When the officers arrived they discovered the woman was at the address with a man who was prevented from contacting her and from being at the address by the conditions of a non-molestation order. The man was liable to be arrested if found in breach of the order.

The officers spoke with the woman and the man at the address and made the decision not to arrest forming the view that there was no risk to the woman. The police log report following the officer’s attendance at the address was updated by PC White with false and inaccurate information. It recorded that the man was not present at the address.

13 Dorset Police staff arrested between 2015 and 2019 

August 2019 – A study by Newsquest’s data investigations unit found that 13 officers or members of staff were arrested in Dorset between May 2015 and 2019. Rape, burglary and assault are among the crimes employees were apprehended over, the investigation found. However, of 13 arrests, nine cases (69 per cent) were dropped and the employee faced no criminal or disciplinary action.

Sharon Perrett murder: Police ‘stopped calling abuse victim’

June 2019 – Police stopped trying to call an abuse victim shortly before she was murdered by her partner because her phone was off, an inquiry has found. Sharon Perrett, 37, was beaten to death by Daniel O’Malley-Keyes at her home in Christchurch, Dorset, in August.

Thousands of police officers and staff ‘not properly vetted’

February 2019 – BBC 5 Live Investigates spoke to Yvonne, not her real name, who was a long-term victim of domestic violence. After her husband attacked both her and her daughter during an incident in 2013, she called 999. When Dorset Police came to her home, one of the attending officers began to groom Yvonne. “He said a beautiful woman like you shouldn’t be treated like this. He started texting me, complimenting me, he was very persuasive,” she told the BBC.

Yvonne and the Dorset PC had a sexual relationship over the next six months, but she says she felt taken advantage of and used. She ended the affair, but says the officer would continue to come to her home unannounced, wearing his police uniform.

“I felt threatened. He said if anyone found out, the court case (for her husband’s domestic violence) would have to start all over again.”

Sacked police officer Allan Smith who sent threatening messages to woman is jailed

July 2015 – A disgraced police officer who sent sent frightening and threatening messages to a woman he harassed, as well as disclosing protected police information, has been jailed.

Allan Christopher Smith, aged 54, of Bovington, admitted multiple incidents of putting a person in fear of violence by harassment, disclosing information without lawful authority and obtaining information without lawful authority.

Criticism for Dorset Police over way it investigates some offences 

December 2014 – Due to a backlog of cases in the Safeguarding Referral Unit, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC)’s PEEL Report raised concerns that “potentially vulnerable victims were either waiting an unacceptable time for services or missed altogether”, and because the force’s definition of vulnerability was too narrow.

BREAKING NEWS: search officer “disciplined” as we call for wider change and mark 4 years 🌹🕯️🌹

🌹 Take action here
🌹 Catch up on the latest here

November 2021 marks 4 years since we lost Gaia. When we spoke out on 25th (World Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) about systemic failures in how the justice system engages with survivors, Dorset Police announced the “disciplining” of a Dorset Police officer involved in the search for Gaia, saying he had been given a “final written warning.”

The family was devastated to learn that these proceedings had taken place behind closed doors, denying us the right to be present, make eye contact, try and understand how things could have gone so wrong and perhaps to speak about the consequences, which left us with a lifetime of grief over an unspeakable loss that will never heal. We feel very let down. It’s another example of Dorset Police saying one thing and doing another.

#16days #16DaysOfActivism #16daysofActivism2021 #16DaysOfActivismAgainstGenderBasedViolence #OrangeTheWorld #JusticeForGaia #JusticeForAllOfUs

Press release: Anniversary Of Gaia Pope’s Disappearance Marked By Call For Connor Hayes Witnesses & Survivors To Come Forward To The Centre For Women’s Justice

  • The Centre for Women’s Justice invites confidential testimony from witnesses and survivors of prolific sex offender Connor Hayes. 
  • Hayes, from Bournemouth, was repeatedly imprisoned and re-released for separate sex offences after Gaia’s rape allegation against him was dropped by Dorset Police. 
  • Dorset Police has one of the UK’s worst prosecution rates for sexual offences, charging cases in just 46 of the 2058 recorded 2019-2020.

The Centre for Women’s Justice (CWJ) has issued a call for anyone who was victimised by or witness to crimes committed by sex offender Connor Hayes to come forward. This marks the fourth anniversary of the disappearance and death of teenager Gaia Pope, who made an allegation of rape against Hayes in December 2015. The case was quickly dropped by Dorset Police however Hayes, from Bournemouth, was subsequently imprisoned, released and imprisoned again for separate sex offences

Hayes made threats against Gaia’s life and repeated attempts to contact her. Gaia’s family say that the trauma this caused alongside the police failure to prosecute her case and fears other women and girls were at risk, was a crucial factor in the teenager’s health challenges, disappearance and death. 

Despite an explosion in sexual offence reporting, nationally less than 1 in 60 rape cases lead to criminal charges. Even in this context, Dorset Police has one of the worst charging rates in the UK. According to data obtained via a Freedom of Information request (1) from Justice for Gaia, of 2058 sexual offences recorded by the force 2019-2020, only 46 led to charges. 

CWJ therefore joins Justice for Gaia in raising concerns around Dorset Police’s record on sexual offences and gender-based violence. Last year a Dorset Police officer strangled a woman to death and 2015-2019 13 other officers were arrested for crimes including rape and assault, while another Dorset Police officer now faces gross misconduct charges related to the investigation into Sarah Everard’s murder. The force is also one of 17 where concerns have been raised about their failure to establish a rape and serious sexual offences unit. 

A full inquest into Gaia’s death will begin in Dorset in 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.”

CWJ, a legal charity that holds the state accountable for violence against women and girls, are supporting the Justice for Gaia campaign and invites anyone who has been a victim or can provide useful evidence about Connor Hayes’ sexual offending to come forward. Please email us at providing reference to Connor Hayes. 

Harriet Wistrich, co-founder, Centre for Women’s Justice, says: “The process of reporting rape and supporting a police investigation can be extremely traumatic. Most women who report do so to prevent harm to others. When police fail, this can be devastating. I have no doubt Gaia’s deterioration in mental health was at least in part caused by her learning of the extent of police failures that allowed Hayes to continue to offend. CWJ are happy to assist the Justice for Gaia campaign in their search for justice and to raise awareness of the impact of criminal justice failings in the investigation of rape.”

Marienna Pope-Weidemann, Gaia’s cousin, says: “Like millions of women across the UK we have lost faith in the police so we are deeply grateful to the Centre for Women’s Justice for providing a safe alternative for people to come forward. Now is the time to speak out against abusers and police failures. If you have any information about Connor Hayes’ crimes, please speak up. There is no justice that can bring our darling Gaia back to us but we will not sit back while a whole generation is failed by those meant to protect us. It’s time to make a change.” 

(1) Freedom of Information request data is available upon request.

Press Release: Independent Medical Experts called at today’s Pre-Inquest Review

  • Pre-Inquest Review Hearing on the disappearance and death of Dorset teenager Gaia Pope was held today at Bournemouth Town Hall.
  • Gaia’s family believe she died due to failings by police and mental health services following an incident of rape. 
  • The Coroner has confirmed that she will now instruct two independent medical experts to provide opinions on Gaia’s care ahead of the full inquest in April 2022.

Wednesday 19 May: inquest proceedings into the death of 19-year-old Gaia Pope from Swanage resumed today with a Pre-Inquest Review hearing at Bournemouth Town Hall. Senior coroner for Dorset Rachael Griffin has confirmed that she will now be instructing two independent medical experts to provide opinions regarding the adequacy of the epilepsy care Gaia received as well as another expert to comment on the sufficiency of this care in light of Gaia’s mental health difficulties.

It was also confirmed that the family will be allowed to show the jury an innovative video multimedia ‘pen portrait’ of Gaia at the inquest which is due to run for three months from 24 April 2022.

Gaia approached Dorset Police in December 2015 to report she had been raped by a known sex offender. Dorset Police dropped Gaia’s case, which preceded a decline in her mental and physical health (Gaia suffered from epilepsy and post-traumatic stress.) Following several hospitalisations Gaia disappeared on 7 November 2017 and following an enormous police search and community effort to find her, after eleven days her body was recovered by which point she had died of hypothermia.

Her family say vital questions about Gaia’s death – and the adequacy of local support services – remain unanswered. With 82 reports per conviction in 2018, Dorset Police has one of the worst conviction rates for rape in the UK. The county also has a significantly higher rates of suicides and A&E admissions due to self harm compared to the national average and the family were devastated to learn in September 2020 that Gaia was sexually harassed by another patient while under section at St Anne’s Hospital, after which no safeguarding referral was made.

Natasha Pope, Gaia’s mum, says: “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. To this end Gaia has already become a formidable force. Only a glimmer of light is required to break through the darkness.”

Marienna Pope-Weidemann, Gaia’s cousin, says: “As a survivor Gaia was denied justice from the police and support from the NHS. What connects these things is a culture, one 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. There are far too many bereaved families in this country who know this to be true. We want justice for all of them. We want to live in a world where hospitals take care of us and the police protect us. It’s not much to ask.”

Harriet Wistrich, director of the Centre for Women’s Justice which is supporting the family, says: “The road to justice for Gaia is proving to be a long and difficult one, but her family and friends remain determined, as do their many allies. After Sarah Everard, women’s confidence in the police is at an all time low and many will be following Gaia’s story as a measure of what justice the state can offer survivors – and what needs to change to save lives like Gaia’s.”

Lucy McKay, on behalf of the charity INQUEST, says: “This hearing comes a time of increased public concern around gendered violence and the police response to missing people, following the murder of Sarah Everard and a number of high profile cases. The scrutiny the inquest process provides in examining the death of Gaia Pope is vital. Not only to ensure the family can access the truth about what happened, and hopefully get some justice and accountability, but also in the public interest to ensure changes are made to protect lives in future.”

Due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, attendance at the hearing today was limited. Members of the public are invited to show support online instead using the hashtag #JusticeForGaia. 


Please respect the privacy of Gaia’s family and friends at this time and ensure all press enquiries go through the stated channels. You can follow the family’s Justice for Gaia campaign on Facebook, Instagram and twitter @JusticeForGaia and find out more via their website. 

Inquest dates & potential new evidence

BREAKING NEWS 📢 Today has been hellish as always but against all odds and opponents we are still kicking butt. After losing our inquest dates due to Covid, we’re relieved to announce that Gaia’s inquest is back on and set to begin on 🔥 25 April 2022 🔥 It’s agonising waiting but that’s a small price to pay for the full and fearless inquest that Gaia – and our community – deserves. 🎊🙌🎊

In another major win, the coroner also agreed to call an independent, expert witness – rather than one picked by the Healthcare Trust – to speak on the quality of care she received and the link between her epilepsy and mental health. ⚕️ She and we hope that doing so may help us prevent future deaths – which is what matters most to us. 🌹🕯️🌹 We were also told new evidence may have come to light from the IOPC but we don’t have any more information yet. That’s extremely difficult but we hope to know more soon.

Thanks as always to our incredible legal team spearheaded by Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and everyone else who’s taken or is taking action for us. 🙏 Find out how you can help here:

There are still many questions unanswered and stones unturned but at least now we have a plan of action and an inquest that will hopefully be accessible to the press and the public. With your support & Gaia working her magic for us somewhere ✨✨✨ we will have answers, we will have justice and we will have change. ⚖️ #JusticeForGaia

Press Release: Gaia Pope family release search guide for loved ones of missing people on third anniversary of teenager’s death

  • Gaia’s Guide: a Community Organising Guide to Help Keep Missing People Safe has been produced in memory of Dorset teenager Gaia Pope, who went missing on 7 November 2017 and whose body was discovered three years ago today.
  • Gaia Pope’s disappearance made national headlines in 2017 with thousands of people joining the public effort to find her. 
  • From today the guide, backed by Missing People and designed for friends and family when someone disappears, will be available to download online for free. 

The family of Dorset teenager Gaia Pope have today released Gaia’s Guide: a Community Organising Guide to Help Keep Missing People Safe, three years to the day since the 19-year-old’s body was found on a coastal path near her hometown of Swanage in Dorset. Pathologists found that Gaia died from hypothermia and the inquest is due to take place in May 2021. Senior Coroner for Dorset Rachael Griffin has stated “it is arguable that acts or omissions by Dorset Police may have been or were contributory to Gaia’s death.” 

After her disappearance on 7 November 2017 Gaia’s story made national headlines with hundreds of volunteers joining the search and thousands taking action online, thanks to community organising efforts led by friends and family. Gaia’s Guide provides step-by-step guidance to mobilise and support a community response when someone goes missing, covering everything from how to search search to engaging with the press and police. The guide is now available to download free from as well as on the new Missing People website.

Gaia’s twin sister Maya Pope-Sutherland, says: When Gaia went missing I didn’t know what to do, none of us knew what to do. We knew with public backing and attention the police would have to do something but I didnt know how to get the word out. If it wasn’t for Marienna and all the volunteers I think we’d still be searching. We want to offer the guide so families know what to do. When someone you love disappears it’s hard to even think straight. Hopefully Gaia’s Guide will help.” 

Gaia’s cousin Marienna Pope-Weidemann, who produced the guide, says: “Gaia’s Guide has been a labour of love for her. Though in cases like Gaia’s community action can be the difference between life and death, shockingly there are no national police procedures informing families what they can expect. That needs to change. Meanwhile, going back over what happened hasn’t been easy but it’s worth it if Gaia’s Guide can help other families through that nightmare and bring even one missing person to safety.”

Remi Arnold, Family Support Manager at Missing People, says: “It’s heart warming to see something good come from such a tragic event. There is something very powerful about family members using their own experiences to help and support others. We’re pleased to include this brilliant resource on our website. Gaia’s family should feel proud of this great work; it’s a wonderful way to honour her memory.”

Jane Hunter, Senior Research and Impact Manager at Missing People, said: Gaia’s guide is an amazing resource, not only because it’s so informative but because it’s been made with such thoughtful consideration towards the missing person themselves as well as those affected. What a great thing for her family to want to do to help others.” 

Someone is reported missing in the UK every 90 seconds. That’s 180,000 people a year and rising. For example, there has been a 77 percent increase in London alone since 2010. Gaia’s Guide reports that people from low income or Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds and those with physical or mental health conditions are most at risk, while government austerity cuts have crippled the health and social care services people rely on when at their most vulnerable, in time of illness, trauma or financial difficulty. 

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