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Gaia Pope: Swanage teenager died of hypothermia

A teenager whose disappearance sparked a major search died of hypothermia, an inquest has heard.

Gaia Pope, 19, from Langton Matravers, Dorset, was reported missing on 7 November. Her body was found 11 days later near the Dorset coast path.

An inquest into her death heard there were no suspicious circumstances or signs of third party involvement.

A family statement said there were questions which “must still be answered”.

The inquest in Bournemouth heard Miss Pope had severe epilepsy and was living with an aunt in Swanage when she went missing.

Her body was discovered in undergrowth on the cliff top between Dancing Ledge and Anvil Point to the west of Swanage.

An initial post-mortem examination was unable to determine a cause of death but further tests showed she died from hypothermia.

The coroner requested a series of reports from Dorset Police, the neurologist treating her epilepsy and from the Dorset Heathcare University NHS Trust, which had been providing care to Miss Pope.

The coroner also requested an entomology report to see if more information can be gathered about the time of her death.

Miss Pope’s disappearance prompted a massive campaign from family and friends who spent days scouring the town and surrounding area along with police and coastguard teams.

Following the inquest hearing, her cousin Marienna Pope-Weidemann issued a statement on behalf of the family praising the “incredible grassroots efforts” of the local community during the search.

“Every minute without Gaia feels like an hour and every hour without answers seems endless.

“We know now what took her from us but when, how and why are all questions that must still be answered, not just for our sake but for the sake of the next family who wakes up in that nightmare someday.

Three people arrested on suspicion of murder while the search for Miss Pope was taking place were later released and face no action.

The inquest was adjourned until 14 May.

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