Published on 15 Dec 2015 Sections

Woman who fell to death after rape acquittal was “failed”

Tracy Shelvey – who fell from the roof of a shopping centre after the acquittal of her accused rapist – was failed by local services, a coroner has said.

Tracy Shelvey

A coroner has delivered a damning verdict on the failures of police, social services, health and council staff to look after a rape victim following the acquittal of her alleged attacker.

Tracy Shelvey, 41, fell off the roof of a shopping centre car park in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, in 2014, days after police officers brought her news of the not guilty verdict.

Former soldier Patrick Hall was cleared by a jury at Manchester Crown Court of raping the mother-of-one and six other women.

Rochdale coroner Simon Nelson today said there were “gross and significant failings” but they only had minimal impact on her death.

He said Ms Shelvey had not been made fully aware of the possibility of an acquittal – “arguably understandably in view of her unpredictable behaviour but nevertheless inexcusable”.

“It was the elephant in the room,” he added.

The inquest heard how Ms Shelvey, who been referred to the local community alcohol and drug team, went on to the shopping centre roof to protest against the outcome of the trial.

As she sat on the highest pillar the conduit her foot was resting on gave way and she fell to her death.

The coroner recorded an “accidental” verdict but noted that he couldn’t recall a case that he dealt which has led to “so many changes by so many agencies”.

Tracey Shelvey’s family said: “We welcome the coroner’s recognition that significant changes have been which it is hoped will help victims in the future. We hope Tracy will be remmbered above all as the happy chatty person that she was.”

Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Robert Potts announced a review of the guidance issued to officers on supporting victims and accepted more could have been done.

But he added: “It is important to remember that police officers are not mental health practitioners and that 10 referrals were made to those better placed to make an assessment.”

INQUEST co director Deborah Coles said:

“There is a lack of understanding of the impact the criminal justice process has on those suffering from mental ill health. “

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co director Deborah Coles said

“There is a lack of understanding of the impact the criminal justice process has on those suffering from mental ill health. “

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co director Deborah Coles said

“There is a lack of understanding of the impact the criminal justice process has on those suffering from mental ill health. “