Twins 'killed themselves after feeling abuse claims were not believed'

Twin sisters ‘killed themselves within months of each other after fearing police did not believe they had both been sexually abused’

  • Chris and Sam Gould left feeling ‘invalidated’ over decision not to prosecute
  • Parents told inquest for Chris, 17, they had ‘no doubt’ the abuse had happened 
  • They said that the alleged abuse was ‘at the root’ of her mental health problems 

Twin sisters took their own lives within months of each other after feeling their claims of long-term sexual abuse were ‘not believed’, an inquest heard.

Chris Gould, 17, and her sibling Sam, from Fulbourn in Cambridgeshire, were left feeling ‘invalidated’ after police said they would not be prosecuting anyone in the wake of their abuse allegations, their parents said.

Sam’s inquest last month heard she took her own life in September 2018, aged 16, after stockpiling prescription drugs.

And yesterday a hearing opened into her twin sister, Chris, which heard she was found dead beside railway tracks in Cambridgeshire just four months later, in January 2019.

Chris Gould, 17, (right) and her sibling Sam,(left) from Fulbourn in Cambridgeshire, were left feeling ‘invalidated’ after not one was prosecuted over their abuse allegations, Chris’ inquest heard yesterday

The inquest, at Huntingdon Town Hall, was told the 17-year-old had previously alleged that both she and Sam had been ‘seriously sexually abused’ from a young age and into their teens. 

No one was ever charged despite a criminal investigation, leaving both girls feeling ‘invalidated,’ the inquest heard.

Sam’s inquest last month was told she had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, which was ‘related to allegations of prolonged sexual abuse in her earlier childhood’.

The girls’ parents, Jane Cannon and Ian Gould, told Chris’ inquest they were ‘not in any doubt’ the abuse happened – and that it was ”the root of Chris’ mental health problems”.

The siblings’ parents also said Chris found it ‘incredibly difficult’ to spend time at the family home in the months after losing her twin.

Mr Gould said: ‘This was an extremely tragic situation in which Chris had decided to take her own life and go and be with her twin sister.

‘Like anyone who has a sibling would understand, they were the best of friends and the worst of enemies – often at the same time.

‘They were fiercely loyal to each other. They were the greatest supporters of one another when either was distressed. They could support each other in ways that no-one else could.’

The inquest heard that Chris first disclosed the alleged sexual abuse in June 2016 – but said it had started from around 2007.

Mrs Cannon said it was clear her daughters were beginning to struggle from the age of 11, as they entered their last year of primary school.

She said: ‘In 2012, Chris scored very low scores on psychometric testing, which was an indication to us at an early stage that something was not right.

‘It didn’t take a qualified anything to look at Chris and Sam’s test results and realise something was wrong in the family.’

Mrs Cannon said that by the time the twins were around 14, they had both begun to ‘seriously struggle’ with their mental health.

‘Chris in particular was experiencing eating difficulties, self-harm, and having suicidal thoughts,’ she said.

‘She refused to talk about it, but we made her go to the school therapist, which she hated.’

The court heard that Chris made her first suicide attempt in May 2016, by attempting to take an overdose.

It was also discovered that she had been self-harming, which her mother claimed was the result of being abused.

The inquest, at Huntingdon Town Hall, (pictured) was told the 17-year-old had previously alleged that both she and Sam had been ‘seriously sexually abused’ from a young age and into their teens

Chris disclosed the alleged sexual abuse on June 29, 2016 – and her mother said she was ‘electively mute’ for a period of time after that.

She was referred to the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), where she was seen by a mental health practitioner and put on anti-depressants for five months.

However, her behaviour deteriorated during this time, and she suffered with panic attacks.

Another blow came in December 2016, when the family were told the police would not be prosecuting Chris and Sam’s alleged abuser.

Mrs Cannon said that her daughters felt ‘invalidated’ as a result of the news, with Chris feeling like she had not been believed.

She said: ‘You can imagine at that point the whole family had been on tenterhooks, wondering what would happen with the police inquiry, waiting and chasing for news – only to then find out that. It had a big impact on Chris.’

Following the news from the police, Chris attempted to take her own life at school before changing her mind, the inquest heard.

The event lead to Chris being admitted as an ‘informal’ patient at mental health clinic The Darwin Centre in Fulbourn, Cambs.

Chris remained as a ‘flexible’ patient on the ward at The Darwin Centre until her death – particularly in the aftermath of losing her twin sister, when she struggled to spend time at her family home.

Mrs Cannon said: ‘We were very grateful for the flexible arrangement we had with them.

‘After Sam died, Chris found it incredibly difficult and painful being in the house where she died.

‘So she would spent a bit of time with us, but would then either stay at her boyfriend’s house – with whom she had a wonderful relationship – or we would take her back to Darwin.

‘The main issue for us was making sure there was always someone keeping an eye on her.’

On the day Chris died, her mother had picked her up from her boyfriend’s house in the morning, and had taken her back to Darwin.

Mrs Cannon said: ‘I had absolutely no concerns about her on that day, so I didn’t communicate anything to the staff about her.’

But that evening, Chris was let out of the ward to have a cigarette at around 6.30pm, with staff noticing 20 minutes later that she had not returned.

Two calls were subsequently made to Chris’ phone by staff at Darwin, which went unanswered.

The ward then phoned Chris’ parents shortly after 7.10pm.

Mrs Cannon said: ‘The nurse in charge asked me if I had heard from Chris, and whether I could contact her boyfriend to ask if she had been in touch with him.

‘I came away from that first call thinking she was with her boyfriend, and fully expecting him to say, don’t worry, she’s with me.’

A text conversation then followed between Mrs Cannon and her daughter’s boyfriend, in which the pair discussed where Chris might have gone and where to search for her.

Mrs Cannon said the Darwin ward also implemented their ‘AWOL’ procedure at 7.35pm – whereby managers on the ward were alerted to her absence, and the police notified.

Shortly after 8.35pm, Chris’ boyfriend went to search by some nearby railway tracks, where he saw a police presence.

The inquest continues, and is expected to last until next week.

For confidential support, call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit Samaritans.org

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