Gaia Pope: Doctor chose not to section teen, inquest hears

Media caption,
Gaia Pope's family produced a video to show to the jury

A psychiatrist decided not to section a teenager who had symptoms of psychosis a month before she was found dead on a clifftop, an inquest has heard.

Gaia Pope, 19, was assessed by the on-call doctor at Poole Hospital in October 2017 after becoming "manic", Dorset Coroner's Court was told.

Dr Peter Jeffery said he did not consider Miss Pope a risk to herself.

Her body was found near her home in Swanage 11 days after going missing on 7 November. She died of hypothermia.

The inquest in Bournemouth was told the family of Miss Pope, who had severe epilepsy, had become concerned about her "erratic" behaviour after she had a seizure.

Image caption,
Miss Pope's disappearance prompted a major search and rescue operation

She was taken to the emergency department and at one point stood on a chair at the hospital while shouting, jurors were told.

Dr Jeffery assessed Miss Pope at 03:00 GMT the next day - 14 hours after she arrived at the hospital, the court heard.

Under questioning, the psychiatrist said he acknowledged it was "not ideal" to do the assessment at that time in the morning, and he could "not recall" whether she had slept or not.

"She was able to have a very cogent and sensible conversation with me," he told the jury.

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Gaia Pope's body was found 11 days after she went missing in November 2017

He said he believed her symptoms were related to her epilepsy and that he was aware she had been sectioned in February, when her condition had improved within 48 hours of a seizure.

Dr Jeffery said he also considered her recent cannabis use to be a contributing factor and urged her to stop taking the drug.

Asking why Dr Jeffery had decided to send Miss Pope home, counsel to the inquest Sarah Clarke QC said: "There was nothing put in place other than 'go see the GP if you need to'."

The psychiatrist replied that she had not wanted to engage with the mental health crisis team.

But he said there was a "missed opportunity" to speak with Miss Pope's family about her mental health, and that liaising with her epilepsy specialist "would have added real value".

The inquest was previously told that Miss Pope had been "anxious" before she went missing due to the imminent release from prison of a man she said had raped her.

The inquest continues.

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