An inquest heard how four months apart, twin sisters took their own lives, afraid their allegations of long-term sexual assault would be dismissed.
Chris Gould, 17, and her twin sister Sam, both from Fulbourn, Cambridgeshire, were left feeling “invalidated” after police said they would not prosecute after sexual accusations were made against them.
The abuse started when the siblings were eight years old and continued into their teens, but the case was closed in October 2016 due to a “lack of admissible evidence,” despite their parents’ concerns after finding that the perpetrator had never been interviewed.
New evidence was discovered in September of last year, prompting the inquiry to be reopened, but this was after the sisters’ deaths.
Sam’s inquest in April heard how she committed suicide in September 2018 at the age of 16 after stockpiling prescription medications.
Chris was found dead alongside railway tracks in Teversham, Cambridgeshire, in January 2019, with significant injuries to her brain and chest. A hearing inquest into her death was opened on Monday, May 17 at Huntingdon Town Hall.
Chris first told the inquest in June 2016 that she and her sister had been “seriously sexually assaulted” since about 2007.
Jane Cannon and Ian Gould, Chris’s parents, said they had “no doubt” about the violence and that it was “the root cause of Chris’s mental health issues.”
Last month, at Sam’s inquest, it was revealed that she had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, which was linked to the claims.
Mrs Cannon testified at the inquest that her daughters began to suffer around the age of 11 when they reached their final year of primary school. At about 14 years old, things were a lot worse for both of them, with Chris struggling with eating disorders, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts.
Chris attempted to take her own life in May 2016 by taking an overdose, according to the court. She was referred to children’s mental health services and told them about the suspected sexual assault in June 2016, during which she became “electively deaf” for a while.
Chris was placed on antidepressants in October of that year for about five months, during which time she had panic attacks, according to the inquest.
In December 2016, the family received more bad news when they learned that the suspected abuser would not be prosecuted, leaving Chris feeling “invalidated and not believed,” according to Mrs Cannon.
Cambridgeshire Police’s Ch. Supt. Chris Mead said the sisters made it clear that they “did not wish to cooperate with any investigation” in a statement read by the coroner.
‘Both girls were adamant that they did not want to do a video interview and that they felt secure knowing they would never see their alleged abuser again,’ he said.
In August 2016, Cambridgeshire Police handed over the case to officers in Hampshire, where the suspected abuser lived. Owing to a “lack of admissible proof” and “no viable possibility” of prosecution, investigators dropped the case two months later.
Chris was allowed to go outside and smoke a cigarette on the evening of her death, and he left the ward about 6.30 p.m.
She didn’t pick up the phone when the workers called.
Her friends, as well as her partner, joined the search effort at about 8.35 p.m., when they went down to search the train tracks in Cherry Hinton. He realized what had happened when he noticed a police presence on the scene.
The police visited the suspect after the siblings died and told him he was identified on the crime report, but they didn’t interview him, according to the inquest.
Officers then stated in September 2020 that some of the facts had just recently come to light and that the investigation will proceed.