An inquest has heard how twin sisters took their own lives four months apart, fearing their claims of long-term sexual abuse were ‘not believed’.
Chris Gould, 17, and her twin sister Sam, from Fulbourn, Cambridgeshire were left feeling ‘invalidated’ after police said they would not be prosecuting in the wake of their sexual allegations.
The siblings said their abuse began when they were as young as eight and continued into their teens but Police closed the case in October 2016 due to a ‘lack of admissible evidence’, even though their parents showed concerns after learning the suspect had never been interviewed.
The investigation was reopened as recently as September last year after new evidence came to light, but this was after the sisters’ deaths.
Sam’s inquest in April, heard how she took her own life aged 16 in September 2018 after stockpiling prescription drugs.
On Monday, May 17, a hearing inquest at Huntingdon Town Hall was opened into the death of Chris, who was found dead beside railway tracks in Teversham, Cambridgeshire in January 2019, having suffered serious injuries to her brain and chest.
The inquest heard that in June 2016, Chris first disclosed that she and her sister had been ‘seriously sexually abused’ from around 2007.
Her parents, Jane Cannon and Ian Gould, said they were ‘not in any doubt’ of the abuse and said it was ‘the root cause of Chris’s mental health problems’.
Sam’s inquest last month heard that she had been diagnosed as having borderline personality disorder, which was related to allegations.
At the inquest, Mrs Cannon said her daughters were clearly beginning to struggle from the age of around 11 years old, as they entered their last year of primary school. Things were a lot worse for both of them at around 14 years old, with Chris experiencing eating difficulties, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
The court heard that Chris first tried to take her own life in May 2016 by attempting to take an overdose. She was referred to children’s mental health services and disclosed the alleged sexual abuse in June 2016, becoming ‘electively mute’ for some time after.
Chris was put on anti-depressants around October that year for a period of around five months, during which she suffered panic attacks, the inquest heard.
Another sad news came to the family in December 2016 when they were told the police would not be prosecuting the alleged abuser, which left Chris feeling ‘invalidated and not believed’, Mrs Cannon said.
In a statement read by the coroner, Cambridgeshire Police’s Ch. Supt. Chris Mead said the sisters made it clear that ‘they did not want to engage with any investigation’.
He added: ‘Both girls were clear that they did not want to do a video interview, and that they felt safe knowing they would never see their alleged abuser again.’
Cambridgeshire Police passed the case over in August 2016 to officers in Hampshire, where the alleged abuser lived. Investigators dropped it two months later due to a ‘lack of admissible evidence’ and ‘no viable prospect’ of prosecution.
On the evening of her death, Chris was allowed to go take a cigarette and left the ward at around 6.30pm.
She didn’t answer staff’s phone calls.
Her parents joined the search effort, as well as her boyfriend, who went down to search the train tracks in Cherry Hinton at around 8.35pm. When he saw a police presence at the scene he realised what had happened.
Following the siblings’ deaths, the force visited the suspect and told him he was named on the crime report, but still didn’t interview him, the inquest heard.
Then in September 2020, officers said some of the evidence ‘has only come to light’ and that the investigation will continue.