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Gaia Popes twin says her sister deserves justice

Gaia Pope’s twin has spoken out to say her sister deserves justice ahead of the first anniversary of the teenager’s disappearance.

The 19-year-old, who lived near Swanage in Dorset, vanished on November 7 last year, sparking a massive campaign from family and friends to find her.

Her body was found dead 11 days later in undergrowth near a coastal path by specialist police search teams.

Dorset Police’s response to an allegation of rape by the teenager before her death is the subject of an independent inquiry.

Gaia Pope vanished on November 7 last year and she was found dead from hypothermia 11 days later

Gaia Pope vanished on November 7 last year and she was found dead from hypothermia 11 days later

Gaia Pope vanished on November 7 last year and she was found dead from hypothermia 11 days later

Now, ahead of the first anniversary of Gaia’s disappearance, her twin sister Maya Pope Pope-Sutherland has called for answers.

Speaking about her sister’s death publicly for the first time, Maya told BBC News: ‘I think my twin sister really deserves justice.

‘All the information we have is the location where Gaia’s body was found and the location of her clothing, so we’ve got no answers as of yet.

‘And I think I’ll start to feel slightly better when we get those answers but there will never be anything that will…,’ she added before choking up.

Maya also spoke about her relationship with her sister, describing it as ‘very close.’

‘Even though it’s almost a year on now it feels like it’s been five minutes since we found out the news and I’m still partly in shock and processing the grief,’ she said.

Gaia's twin sister Maya Pope-Sutherland (pictured) has spoken out to say her sister 'deserves justice'

Gaia's twin sister Maya Pope-Sutherland (pictured) has spoken out to say her sister 'deserves justice'

Gaia’s twin sister Maya Pope-Sutherland (pictured) has spoken out to say her sister ‘deserves justice’

‘We were very close and even thought I am very unlucky, some may put it that way, I also feel very to have been able to have that relationship.’

An inquest heard that Gaia, who had severe epilepsy, died of hypothermia.

Her family said she developed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder after Dorset Police decided to take no further action in relation to an allegation of rape she made in December 2015.

The teenager is said to have become aware that a number of other women and girls had made similar allegations against the same perpetrator.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IPOC) announced in July that it had launched an investigation following a referral from Dorset Police after the teenager’s family made a complaint in May about the force’s handling of the allegation.

The teenager's disappearance in November last sparked a massive campaign to find her 

The teenager's disappearance in November last sparked a massive campaign to find her 

The teenager’s disappearance in November last sparked a massive campaign to find her 

Gaia’s mother Natasha Pope said at the time: ‘There is no doubt in my mind: this is what drove Gaia up the hill that night. I am relieved that, at last, it will be properly investigated and I am resolved to see positive change.

‘It was not her intention but, in a way, my daughter gave her life to shine a light on all this.’

The teenager’s father, Richard Sutherland,added: ‘We need to know if more could have been done to make Gaia feel safe and protect the public.

‘Nothing can bring her back to us but a thorough, transparent and unbiased investigation will help us move forwards.

‘We need to know the truth.’

 

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