Family’s ‘hearts break again’ as Gaia Pope’s cause of death finally revealed

Teenager Gaia Pope died from hypothermia, an inquest has heard – as her family have described how their hearts ‘broke again’ at the news.

The 19-year-old was reported missing by her relatives from her home near Swanage, Dorset, on November 7 last year, the court was told.

Her body was found 11 days later by police search teams in undergrowth between Dancing Ledge and Anvil Point, close to a coastal path.

Three people – a gran, her son and her teenage grandson – were arrested on suspicion of murder following Gaia’s disappearance.

However, after the student’s body was found, Dorset Police said a post mortem exam showed "no other person was involved in her death".

The trio were released and police said they would face no further action.

Today, Dorset Coroner Rachael Griffin opened the hearing into Gaia’s death at Bournemouth Town Hall in Dorset.

Coroner’s officer Andrew Lord told the coroner that pathologist Dr Russell Delaney was initially unable to establish a cause of death.

But following tests, he was later able to say that Gaia had died from hypothermia, Mr Lord said.

The only family members present at the inquest were Gaia’s cousin, Marienna Pope-Weidemann, and Marienna’s mum, Talia Pope.

Speaking after the hearing, Marienna said: "It was just a few days ago that the family received confirmation that Gaia died of hypothermia and our hearts broke all over again.

"Dealing with their shock and grief, Gaia’s parents, Natasha and Richard, and her sisters Clara and Maya, couldn’t be here today.

"But they wanted me to thank all our loved ones, whose loyalty and support keeps us going as we try to make sense of our sudden and terrible loss.

"Every minute without Gaia feels like an hour and every hour without answers seems endless."

The hearing heard that Gaia’s body was found in the undergrowth on November 18. She was identified by a tattoo on her body.

Although three members of the same family were arrested on suspicion of murdering Gaia and later released without charge, the coroner confirmed there were no suspicious circumstances into her death.

She also confirmed she is to request a response from the police over their handling of the matter.

She said: "I am fully aware the family have a number on concerns into Gaia’s death. Some of them will be very relevant to my inquiry.

"I will request a statement from Dorset police about the missing persons investigation undertaken and the investigation around the circumstances of her death."

Gaia suffered severe epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder after an alleged sexual assault, her family have said.

The coroner adjourned the hearing until May 14 for a pre-inquest review.


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