Stoke & Staffordshire

Burton woman 'left to die' after online sexual role-play

Hope Barden Image copyright Staffordshire Police
Image caption Staffordshire Coroner Andrew Haigh has ruled that Hope Barden was unlawfully killed

A woman who died in a role-play sex game over the internet was unlawfully killed, a coroner has ruled.

Hope Barden, 21, was found asphyxiated after an online relationship with a pub landlord who was later jailed for possession of extreme pornography.

Her mother Kate Barden said it would have been a landmark case had Jerome Dangar, arrested in connection with the death, still been alive.

She said her daughter, from Burton-upon-Trent, was "left to die".

Staffordshire Police said it had submitted a file to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider charging Dangar, 45, from north Cornwall, with manslaughter over the death of Ms Barden.

Officers said it was proved Dangar was online while she died on 15 March 2018, and there was no attempt to raise any emergency response to the danger he had put her in.

Dangar was found dead at HMP Dartmoor on 15 April 2019 and never faced charges.

Image copyright Cornwall Live
Image caption Jerome Dangar was arrested over Ms Barden's death but died before any charges could be brought

Ms Barden said her daughter had been earning extra money working in the online adult industry.

"Anyone with daughters or other relatives involved in this terrible industry must be aware of the risk of harm," she said.

"A duty of care exists in any relationship. If someone is obviously in danger, one has a legal obligation to take steps to help. In this tragic case, Hope was left to die."

She added: "Unregulated, this industry serves no-one except those who wish to perpetrate violence against women.

"Hope became the subject of interest of a regular user of the site who paid her to perform sexual acts via the internet, which over three months of contact escalated into degrading and dangerous situations."

Her family said they would be issuing a report and findings to every police force in the UK in the hope that "should a dreadful situation like this arise again, there is a record of how we approached such a sensitive and difficult issue".

Det Insp John Quilty, from Staffordshire CID, said: "The death of Dangar ultimately prevented prosecutors from charging him in connection with Hope's death as a result of sexually related role-play.

"This type of online sexual activity is extremely dangerous and the repeated persuasion and dangerous requests that Dangar placed on Hope ultimately led to her death."

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