10:43 BST Thursday 5th July 2018
Today the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) have announced a new 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 was reported missing on 7 November 2017 in Swanage, Dorset by a family member. Her family communicated their concern for the missing teenager, who had Post Traumatic Stress disorder, following a serious sexual assault when she was 17. Gaia had epilepsy and did not have her medication when she went missing.
Following a police investigation and a public search for Gaia in which thousands of people participated, her body was found 11 days after her disappearance within a mile of where she was last seen.
In the months before her death she was increasingly afraid that the man who raped her and threatened her family would soon be eligible for early release. In addition to concerns about the conduct of the police, the family have questions about whether a lack of support from underfunded mental health and social services contributed to Gaia’s death.
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 : “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 : “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 : “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 : “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 : “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 : “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, executive director of INQUEST : ”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.”
0605 BST Monday 11th June 2018
After campaigning for four years, the Friends of Castle Cove Beach Charity have announced a major breakthrough.
They have signed a lease which will enable the public to get access to the beach.
Contracts were exchanged on Friday and completion is immediate. The Friends are now lease-holders of a beach access route for 99 years, and will be able to build steps down to the beach – once they have raised £30,000.
Steve Elsworth, Chair of Trustees of the charity explained “This is a major breakthrough for the campaign, and fantastic news for the local community,”. “Now all we have to do is raise £30,000. We will raise the money this year, and build the steps as soon as we can.”
“The Friends obtained planning permission for the steps in April, and have signed the lease today. Now we have to raise £30,000. “We are going to crowdfund, we are asking local businesses for cash, and we are asking our supporters to reach deep into their pockets. Any donations would be extremely welcome – go to our justgiving page.”
“You can’t believe how delighted we are”, said Steve. “I kissed our lawyer when we heard the news.”
The steps to Castle Cove Beach were removed in 2013, after being in place for 80 years. The campaign to restore them began in 2014, and has continued since then. “We have had support from councillors of all parties, from churches, community groups, schools, local landowners, the Coop, national organisations such as the Open Spaces Society, the Ramblers, the Prince’s Trust and the South West Coast Path Association,” said Steve. “We have 850 followers on Facebook and 200 people receive our monthly newsletter. This is a very popular community campaign.”
Since the campaign was launched on Monday 11th of June over £1500 has already been raised.
Access to Castle Cove beach is on Old Castle Road in Weymouth and its also only yards from Sandsfoot Castle.
Want to help? – donate to justgiving.com – name of donation is “Castle Cove Beach.” The link below takes you to the page.
Wednesday 28th February – 1915 GMT – by Lee Dolbear
LIVE TRAVEL DORSET ALERTS VIA INRIX
An AMBER weather warning for the south west has now been validated. It came into force at 2pm as the freezing winds from the east met Storm Emma from the south west.
This was the scene in Weymouth just before 6pm and the snow is still coming thick and fast.
This morning The Met Office issued it’s first RED warning for parts of the south west. This red warning is valid from 3pm Thursday and it means
Dangerous weather is expected and, if you have not done so already, you should take action now to keep yourself and others safe from the impact of the severe weather. It is very likely that there will be a risk to life, with substantial disruption to travel, energy supplies and possibly widespread damage to property and infrastructure.
Here in Weymouth the Esplanade is now looking like a scene from Christmas.
We are encouraging people not to travel in the SW between 8pm today (1 March) and 2am tomorrow (2 March) | We are working around the clock to keep everyone safe on the network but in line with the Met Office Red Alert, & for safety reasons, the advice is not to travel #WeatherSWpic.twitter.com/auJTcdQHLo
— Highways England (@HighwaysSWEST) March 1, 2018
With most of the United Kingdom having snow this week from the now infamous ‘Beast from the east’, the Met Office issued an amber alert for Dorset and the rest of the south-west on Tuesday. This amber warning was upgraded from yellow which was initially issued the day before.
We do live in a bit of a health and safety gone mad nanny state in the last few years but with this relentless front of cold, I personally believe the weather organisation based in Exeter has quite rightly kept us well-informed.
The AMBER WARNING is currently valid NOW UNTIL 8am Friday.
All details can be found at the MET OFFICE WEBSITE
Travel Dorset say that no Dorset county council transport is running today, but that does not necessarily mean schools are closed. Check Online.
— Travel Dorset (@TravelDorset) March 1, 2018
Earlier this week scarves and hats were spotted on Weymouth Esplanade sea front shelters. One tweet later and we discovered who was behind putting the items and love out there.
People are amazing pic.twitter.com/vOdOlmlMN9
— Lee Dolbear (@LeeDolbear7) February 26, 2018
It was revealed the person behind attaching the items and scripting the loving note ‘I’m not lost, if you need me – use me – stay warm ❤️’ was Gemma Spearing and after seeing the tweet BBC Radio Solent breakfast show presenter Steve Harris caught up with Gemma on Wednesday mornings show. LISTEN HERE
Some advice if you see a homeless person on the streets and you’re not sure how you can help HERE
It’s a case of batten down the hatches, do not travel unless you seriously need to and take care.
This bitter eastern has been ongoing for nearly a week.
Make sure you check on your elderly neighbours and family.
Drive to the conditions that could change in seconds.
This isn’t Armageddon but it’s not good so TAKE CARE.
Links For Travel
All other links are in the article.
This story will keep updating as the picture keeps changing by the hour.
22 February 2018 0858 GMT
Weymouth’s Punch and Judy has been a summer spectacle for over 130 years but nowadays the current professor is asking for the public’s help to make sure that it stays open for performances beyond 2018.
Up until 2016 Mark Poulton was able to perform a ‘full’ summer season working 7 days a week (weather permitting) from the end of May until early September. Since then he has found it is now only viable to work the school summer holidays. However, the annual expenses remain the same, so Weymouth Punch and Judy have come up with a 3-point plan to ensure Mark can afford to continue with the show after the 2018 summer season.
They are asking everyone who enjoys the shows, visitors and locals alike, to become involved in our campaign to SAVE MR PUNCH.
Mark explains although we will be seeking help and support from W&P Borough Council, local traders and businesses we need the support of the local community and visitors too.
Your donation will go toward additional expenses in running the show, including:
• Maintenance of the puppets and the stage
• Secure storage of the stage and other equipment when not in use
• Cost of site for the camper van
• Day to-day expenses while in Weymouth
Perhaps, more importantly, the success of the “Go Fund Me” campaign will demonstrate the strength of support from the local and visitor communities when we seek sponsorship from local businesses and from the Council for the 2019 season and beyond.
The go fund me page set up by Mark has now reached the milestone of £1000.