Gaia Pope's family left 'unable to grieve' after repeated inquest delays

Gaia Pope's family left 'unable to grieve' after repeated inquest delays

Published by The Wessex FM News Team at 1:30pm 18th October 2019.

The family of Dorset teenager Gaia Pope, who was found dead on a coastal path nearly two years ago, say they've been left frustrated and unable to grieve as a further delay to inquest proceedings is announced.

They say it's due to delays in the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC)'s investigations into Dorset Police's handling of the 19-year-old's rape allegation and later disappearance.

Deadlines for the investigation have been extended several times since May.

Gaia Search 2017 Swanage Coastguard
Gaia's disappearance in 2017 sparked a huge search operation

 

In a statement the family said: 

"Every deadline the IOPC has given our family has been broken with little explanation, while decisions are made without us behind closed doors. Even the monthly updates we were promised, we have had to chase for.

"Now, less than four weeks before it was due to resume, we are told that the inquest will be postponed yet again. Even now, we have no guarantees that the answers we have long waited and suffered for will be given to us in full.

"For almost two years we have been left, struggling to stay afloat in a sea of unanswered questions."

The 7th November will mark the second anniversary of Gaia's disappearance.

gaia art
The family have started an #ArtForGaia project, inviting people to submit creative work to remember Gaia and highlight the issues raised by her death

Dorset Police have issued the following statement:

"The IOPC independent investigations into the Force’s handling of the rape allegation and the response when dealing with the missing person report made in respect of Gaia Pope remain ongoing.

"An inquest into Gaia’s death has also been opened and HM Coroner is currently conducting her investigation. Because of those factors and foremost being mindful of the impact these processes have on Gaia’s family following her tragic death, it would not be appropriate at this time for the Force to comment further. Dorset Police is cooperating fully with the IOPC and HM Coroner and is supplying any information as requested by them."