Tracy Shelvey: 'Gross failings' in lead-up to car park roof death plunge

Tracy Shelvey Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Tracy Shelvey was found dead after falling from a car park roof in Rochdale

A coroner has described "significant and gross failings" in the way police and health professionals dealt with a woman who plunged to her death.

Tracy Shelvey, 41, fell from the roof of a car park in Rochdale on 3 February 2014 after learning a man accused of raping her had been cleared.

Coroner Simon Nelson ruled the death an accident and said the failings had only "minimally" contributed.

He said she had not been told of the "possibility of an acquittal".

Ms Shelvey, who was vulnerable and known to have drink and drug problems, plunged to her death three days after hearing the verdict of the retrial.

Oldham County Court learned she was visited by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officers on 31 January 2014 to deliver news of the verdict.

But the subject of acquittal had not been broached "adequately or at all" with Ms Shelvey and there were a catalogue of errors by other agencies, the coroner said.

'Wholly inadequate'

Officers should have made sure a bespoke plan was in place before the retrial, he said, which was a "significant and gross failure".

Ms Shelvey was later made the subject of a high-risk missing person inquiry but, when police and a paramedic visited her, she dismissed their concerns and was deemed not to be at risk.

After taking to the roof of the Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre car park in protest at the acquittal, she fell when a conduit on which her foot was resting gave way.

No less than 10 referrals to Rochdale Council's adult care were generated from GMP's Public Protection Investigation Unit before 31 January, the response to which, Mr Nelson said, was "wholly inadequate".

Image copyright Google street view
Image caption Tracy Shelvey went to the Wheatsheaf car park in Rochdale as a public protest

Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust had failed to record or explore how Ms Shelvey might respond to an acquittal, Mr Nelson said.

GMP said since Ms Shelvey's death, officers investigating rape and sexual assaults have been given guidance to ensure the correct support is in place for victims.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission found no case to answer for misconduct or gross misconduct by GMP and recommended officers who tried to talk Ms Shelvey down should be commended.

Rochdale Council said: "We have made a number of changes to our systems so that people in similar situations will get a greater level of support."

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