Gaia Pope inquest: Social worker not told of mental health assessment

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Gaia PopeImage source, Family handout
Image caption,
Gaia Pope was last seen in Swanage on 7 November

Gaia Pope's social worker was never told she had undergone a mental health assessment weeks before she disappeared, an inquest has heard.

Sarah Lock told Dorset Coroner's Court she had last seen the 19-year-old on 17 October 2017, four days before her family took her to Poole Hospital with concerns about her.

Ms Pope was assessed under the Mental Health Act but later discharged.

She was reported missing on 7 November and found dead 11 days later.

She was found on a cliff top near Swanage and died from hypothermia.

The teenager, who suffered from severe epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), had been experiencing "ongoing manic episodes", the inquest had previously heard.

She was also worried about the imminent release from prison of the man she had accused of raping her.

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

Miss Lock told the court she was not informed of the assessment and had she known she would have arranged to meet Miss Pope to discuss it.

Rachael Griffin, senior coroner for Dorset, asked the witness: "If you had been contacted, you would have attempted to contact Gaia.

"That would have been an opportunity for you to speak to her to assess her needs."

Miss Lock replied: "Absolutely, yes. To see if she wanted any on-going support with her mental health or epilepsy."

Ms Griffin asked if it was "an opportunity missed" to discuss her needs, to which Miss Lock replied: "Absolutely."

Miss Lock said changes had been made and social workers were now informed of any Mental Health Act assessments.

The inquest heard that in their last meeting they discussed Miss Pope making a housing application to live in supported accommodation in Bournemouth, but she did not disclose any worries about her mental health.

From then until learning of the teenager's disappearance, Miss Lock did not have any contact with other agencies about her.

"If I had it would be in my case notes, so no", she said.

The social worker was asked if she could have done anything to support Gaia during the period when she was looking for housing and staying between addresses.

Miss Lock said the 19-year-old "didn't raise any concern" and was staying with family and friends.

"I wasn't concerned that anybody she was staying with didn't know how to support her", she said.

The inquest continues.

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