Gaia Pope: Video played at teenager's inquest pays tribute to 'joyful force of nature'

  • The video tribute released by Gaia Pope's family

A poignant video put together by the family of Dorset teenager Gaia Pope has been played to the jury at the inquest into her death.

In the video Gaia's family described the world as a darker place without her.

Gaia Pope-Sutherland, 19, was reported missing from her home in Swanage on November 7 2017. Her body was found 11 days later, following a huge search and rescue operation.

Dorset Coroner's Court has heard that Gaia was unsettled on the day she was last seen, because of the imminent release from prison of a man she had accused of raping her.

Today (Wednesday 27 April), the jury at Bournemouth Coroner's Court were played a video that Gaia's family had put together in memory of the teenager.

In the video, Gaia can be seen performing alongside her sister, before members of her family narrate a short description of what Gaia was like as a person.

Gaia's family say she was 'fiercely loyal to those she loved'.

They said, "Gaia grew up in Dorset with her mum Natasha, big sister Clara, twin sister Maya and cousin Marienna.

"Gaia loved her family and her home deeply.

"She was happiest out in the Purbeck nature her grandparents introduced her to, inspired by its beauty and wildlife to create art, or of course cuddling up with her beloved cat Bella, a rescue cat prone to scratching others, but who let Gaia cradle her like a baby.

"Gaia was a force of nature, and fiercely loyal to those she loved. Despite being bullied herself at school, or perhaps because of this, she was always ready to stand up for those who needed it.

"She was a shoulder to cry on, and a friend to be relied on. With Gaia around, there was never a dull moment, or a quiet one.

"She had a joyful nature, and a ready and radiant smile, and filled out lives with song and laughter.

"After she shared that she had been raped, Gaia's deteriorating physical and mental health changed her life. At times our girl would seem to disappear, lost in fear and self doubt.

"But she fought bravely to return to us, and her inner light always shone through the clouds.

"Gaia also kept hold of her dreams- she hoped to have a big family and host Christmases in the Dorset cottage she dreamed of, surrounded by her family and friends.

"The challenges she faced as a young woman living with epilepsy, and as a survivor of sexual violence, inspired her to pursue a career in health and social care.

"Gaia had strong values, and wanted to contribute to positive change for her community. This makes us so proud.

"Above all, we remember Gaia's immense passion, compassion and creativity. We give thanks for every day we got to share with her.

"The world is a darker place without Gaia, and she will be missed every minute of the rest of our lives."

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