Two suicides, two women who felt let down by justice

Feb 4, 2014
Jack Bremer

Tracy Shelvey and Anne-Marie Ellement had both claimed they were raped and saw the men go free

THE CASE of a Rochdale woman who jumped to her death yesterday after a court acquitted a man charged with raping her has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Manchester police were called to the Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre in Rochdale after Tracy Shelvey, aged 41, was seen getting onto the roof at about 9.30 am. They tried to talk her down before she jumped. She died in hospital from her injuries.

Police had visited her at home on Friday to inform her that the 24-year-old man she and two other women had accused of rape had been found not guilty at the end of a three-week trial. 

According to the Manchester Evening News, the news made her distressed. Officers say they comforted her and only left after promising to get support from outside agencies.

One of her neighbours said: “She was a lovely woman. It’s incredibly tragic. Our thoughts are with her family.”

Assistant Chief Constable Dawn Copley confirmed that Tracy Shelvey had been of the three complainants in the rape trial, and "throughout that process specially-trained officers from Greater Manchester Police had been providing her with regular support and advice."

She added: "This is a terribly sad end to what has been a long and difficult case." The police were voluntarily referring the case of the IPCC.

Tracy Shelvey died on the same day that an inquest opened 200 miles away in Salisbury, Wiltshire into the death of a female soldier found hanged at her barracks after the Army declined to charge two male soldiers she said had raped her on a drunken night out.

The alleged incident had occurred in 2009 when Corporal Anne-Marie Ellement (pictured above) was based in Germany. She is said to have become depressed after one of the men she accused of rape was posted in 2010 to the same Wiltshire barracks she had been moved to on compassionate grounds earlier that year.

Corp Ellement's mother, Alexandra Barritt, told the Coroner: "She was worried… word would get around about what had happened in Germany."

She said her daughter became "distressed" in the summer of 2011. "It was about the allegation she made of rape. She said there was going to be no charges and these two individuals were threatening her and saying they were going to sue her and she was very distressed about this."

Corp Ellement, who served with the Royal Military Police, was found dead in October 2011, three days after her 30th birthday.

As the Daily Telegraph reports, Mrs Barritt claimed her daughter had not felt "at all supported" by the Army after she made the rape allegation.

Coroner Nicholas Rhineburg said that as well as exploring whether she deliberately took her own life, the inquest would also be looking into "how effective" was the welfare and support given to her in the wake of her rape complaint.

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