A schoolgirl coping with the trauma of an alleged sex attack was found dead at her home in a case described as “tragic” by a coroner at an inquest yesterday.
Emily Stickells, a year 11 GCSE pupil at Ysgol Glantaf in Cardiff , died on May 13 this year.
The hearing was told she had been asleep in her bedroom when her mum and stepdad, Sharon and Steven Thomas, left for work that day.
Mrs Thomas discovered her daughter’s body after she returned home to their house in Trowbridge Green in the afternoon when Emily did not respond to text messages.
Cardiff assistant coroner Thomas Atherton said Emily had split up with her boyfriend on the night before she hanged herself.
He also described how the teenager had been trying to cope with an alleged sex attack dating back to 2014 in the 18 months before her death.
The inquest heard Emily had been referred to the Sexual Assault Referral Unit at Cardiff Royal Infirmary in December 2014 and had reported a sex assault to police.
Although she was under 16 at the time Emily was deemed at minimal risk of further sexual exploitation.
She had declined counselling, telling staff she was coping with help from friends and family.
“She felt nobody believed her, but I believed her,” Mrs Thomas told the inquest.
“It affected her school and everything. She started truanting.”
Recording a verdict of suicide, Mr Atherton said: “Despite the fact she said she was coping with the consequence of that incident [the sexual assault] her natural shyness prevented her from telling the people helping her.
“I am very sad Emily did not feel confident enough to take up the counselling offered to her.”
He noted Emily’s unhappiness “deep down” about the incident and said her behaviour afterwards suggested “a lack of self esteem and confidence”.
He added: “This is a truly tragic case.”
Following Emily’s death, in a letter sent to parents in May, Glantaf headteacher Alun Davies said pupils at the school had been offered specialist support in light of her death, and added: “Emily will be remembered fondly by pupils and staff.
“She made a positive contribution to the school, representing Glantaf in field athletics, and was a popular and valued member of our community.”
For confidential support the Samaritans can be contacted for free around the clock 365 days a year on 116 123
For confidential advice or support for victims of sex assault, contact Rape Crisis on 0808 802 9999 12-2.30pm and 7-9.30pm every day, and 3-5.30pm on weekdays