Rape claim victim committed suicide to avoid 'shame' for family

Eleanor de Freitas suffered with bipolar disorder Credit: PA

A young woman killed herself days before she was due to stand trial over allegedly making a false rape claim because she could see no other way out, her inquest heard.

The hearing into the death of Eleanor de Freitas, who died in April 2014, heard how the 'vivacious' 23-year-old feared she would not believed at her trial for perverting the course of justice.

In a suicide note the trainee accountant from London, who suffered with bipolar disorder and had been previously been sectioned under the mental health act, said her decision to end her life was 'selfish' but said she would 'bring shame on the family' if she lost the case.

Ms de Freitas had also described how she felt 'ashamed to be British' after the Crown Prosecution Service decided to press charges against her, and told her legal team in the run up to the trial that 'it would be better if I had been run over by a bus'.

She said she feared her alleged abuser, who went on to lodge the criminal complaint against Ms de Freitas, would be free to re-offend if he was not brought to book, the court heard.

Ms de Freitas' father, David, told the inquest how his daughter changed in the months leading up to her trial, describing her as 'depressed' and her behaviour 'bizarre' once counselling was withdrawn.

"She had been receiving counselling for rape," Mr de Freitas said. "But she was denied access to counselling from the moment she received summons (for perverting the course of justice)."

He added that she had been abused mentally and physically during her stay in hospital and feared being sectioned again.

Dr Chris Bench, Ms de Freitas's consultant psychiatrist from 2009 until her death, said he made an assessment of his patient's treatment at every appointment.

Because she had thoughts of committing suicide, Dr Bench considered her not fit to appear in court in September 2013, adding that Ms de Freitas was concerned the judge did not seem very sympathetic to her mental state when she appeared as a defendant.

He said she was well enough to attend court again when he saw her on 27 March last year, his final appointment with Ms de Freitas before her death.

The coroner recorded Ms de Freitas, whose body was discovered by her mother, took her own life.