One Year On…

We can’t believe it, but tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of Gaia’s disappearance. Her twin sister Maya has spoken on camera for the first time in an incredibly courageous interview for the BBC, which you can watch here.

In this extended radio interview, Clara and Maya speak about their grief, their hopes for the campaign and why Gaia would want justice for us all. We are so proud of them and we know Gaia is too.

@ Ministry of Justice with Sisters Uncut

Gaia’s cousin Marienna speaking outside the Ministry of Justice at a powerful action by Sisters Uncut to demand #SupportNotSuspicion for survivors of sexual violence.

Rape is the only crime you have to sacrifice your privacy to report. The Crown Prosecution Service demand that police download all phone data of anyone reporting sexual assault. The average download contains 30,000 pages of personal data, which could be handed over to the abuser’s defence team.

Read more about why this is so important to oppose.

#JusticeForGaia on BBC Radio 5 Live

Gaia’s sister Clara and her cousin Marienna speak alongside leading human rights lawyer Harriett Wistrich about Justice for Gaia almost one year on, the Art for Gaia project and how the system is failing survivors.

 

 

#ArtForGaia is live

With the inquest on hold and almost a year having past, we’re launching an art project in Gaia’s memory, which is being followed by BBC News.
Gaia’s cousin Marienna says: “Some things are so big, run so deep, they can only be expressed through art. Our love and our grief for Gaia feels that way. The love we’ve felt from the community felt that way too. We want to honour that, make it visible, maybe do something to show other survivors, families who’s lost someone too soon, that they are not alone. Absolutely all submissions are welcome.”
Gaia’s mum Natasha says: “Gaia’s art and poetry, inspired by the beauty of nature and the strength of femininity, is her way of connecting with her true self. In spite of all she’s been through she is not defined by that.
Our Gaia would want to provide a forum for others to find their voice and create. To imagine that unfolding in her name in any small way makes me so grateful and I see a greater purpose in it.”
Find out more at #ArtForGaia

Inquest Postponed

The Pre-Inquest Review hearing scheduled for 5th September as part of the inquest into the death of Gaia Pope-Sutherland has been postponed by the Dorset Coroner, following an announcement by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) that their investigation will not now be concluded prior to February 2019. The Pre-Inquest Review is now expected to proceed in March 2019.

The family of Gaia Pope-Sutherland said:

“We are disappointed to have lost this opportunity to appear in the coroner’s court, for the first time with legal representation. Almost an entire year has passed since Gaia’s death and we have still not been given this opportunity. Nor has any significant information been disclosed to us about what happened to Gaia and why.

Without answers, we live in limbo. It is simply impossible to move forwards while we remain in the dark like this.

However, we appreciate the work the IOPC are doing to investigate the actions of Dorset police, not only when Gaia went missing in November 2017 but also when she disclosed to them the rape which had such a horrific impact on her mental health. We dearly hope that the extension of these investigations means that the investigation is being given the attention and resources it needs to bring justice for Gaia.”

 

Press Release: IOPC launch new investigation into failed rape case

On 5 July the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) will announce their investigation into how Dorset Police handled the rape case brought by Gaia Pope two years before her death in November 2017. This will run parallel with the IOPC investigation into how Dorset Police handled the teenager’s disappearance.

Gaia’s family welcome the decision, highlighting the profound impact that the rape and failed investigation had on Gaia, who developed symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after she became aware that a number of other women and girls had made similar allegations against the same perpetrator.

When the police made a decision to take no further action in respect of her allegations she became disturbed by the fear that these allegations suggested a pattern of young or vulnerable women being targeted and groomed. Gaia believed a more effective investigation may have secured a longer prison sentence, identifying other perpetrators and protecting potential victims.

Natasha Pope, Gaia’s mother, says: “There is no doubt in my mind: this is what drove Gaia up the hill that night. I am relieved that at last, it will be properly investigated and I am resolved to see positive change. It was not her intention but in a way, my daughter gave her life to shine a light on all this.”

Maya Pope-Sutherland, Gaia’s sister, says: “It feels like we’ve been screaming in a vacuum for a long time but now we will break the silence. I hope our search for answers can open the door to positive change and help other survivors be heard and get justice. It’s what Gaia would have wanted.”

Clara Pope-Sutherland, Gaia’s sister, says: “Survivors of sexual violence deserve to be heard, supported and protected. Gaia will be more than another statistic to show that’s not the case. Hand in hand, she leads the way with all survivors. We are grateful to the IOPC for recognising the need to investigate. We hope it will begin to give Gaia the voice she so deserved when she was alive.”

Marienna Pope-Weidemann, Gaia’s cousin, says: “Access to justice and to recovery has become a privilege reserved for those who can afford it. Gaia fell through the cracks in that system and she died there. Some nights I can’t sleep, can’t breathe, I miss her so much. We all do. But then the sun comes up and it feels like fighting for her rights is all that matters, even now. Especially now.”

Richard Sutherland, Gaia’s father, says: “We need to know if more could have been done to make Gaia feel safe and protect the public. Nothing can bring her back to us but a thorough, transparent and unbiased investigation will help us move forwards. We need to know the truth.”

Harriet Wistrich, of Birnberg Peirce, who is representing the family, says: “Gaia’s death illustrates the severe mental health impact, not only of sexual violence but also of investigative failures by the police. Representing victims in the Worboys’ case informs me that where victims are aware they may have been one of many targeted by their perpetrator, a sense of responsibility for preventing further harm can weigh heavily. But ultimately, it is the responsibility of the police, not victims, to protect women from dangerous sex offenders.”

Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST, says: There is a clear link between the trauma of rape and mental ill health. Despite this, too many victims of sexual violence are failed by statutory agencies. It is tragic that it took Gaia’s death for the response of the police to be scrutinised. We hope this investigation will deliver truth for this family, and help to bring about changes that are so urgently needed.”

You can read the full release here on the INQUEST website. INQUEST has been working with us since January 2018. We are being represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Sarah Kellas and Harriet Wistrich of Birnberg Peirce Solicitors, and Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC of Doughty Street Chambers.

Gaia’s festival fundraiser on ITV

ITV News report on Gaia’s festival fundraiser, hosted by the Drum & Bass Warriors at the Old Fire Station in Bournemouth.
Huge thanks to everyone who gave their time and talent to make this day so extraordinary. All proceeds went to charities that supported Gaia or that she believed in: Missing People, RapeCrisis England & Wales, Epilepsy Society and Sisters Uncut.
#GaiaPower still changing the world…

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