Tragic Ipswich teenager Megan Younger-Watson was found dead at Christchurch House in Ipswich hours after alleged rape
A teenage girl who was found hanged in her bedroom at an Ipswich hostel may have been raped just hours before.
Megan Younger-Watson was found dead in her room at Christchurch House in Fonnereau Road, Ipswich, just after 10am on February 16, 2019, an inquest held at Suffolk Coroner’s Court today was told.
The night before her death, the 17 year old had gone out to celebrate with friends at the Grinning Rat pub, in St Helen’s Street, after her fears that she would be evicted from the hostel were put to rest.
A friend of the teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she had gone to the hostel at around 6.10pm on February 15 to celebrate with Megan who she described as having been ‘really happy’.
But the inquest heard that Megan’s night took a turn after she witnessed a man being robbed in the pub car park. The teenager intervened and managed to return some of the victim’s belongings to him, but was left shaken by the incident.
Megan and her friends then went into the pub and, the inquest was told, ‘by all accounts had a good time’.
After the pub closed, Megan and her friends, who were said to have been very drunk, then went to a nearby house party, which they were told only the girls in the group could attend.
One of Megan’s close male friends, who must also remain anonymous, said: “A lad stopped me from going upstairs. I felt intimidated by the guy so I waited outside.
“The girls were gone a long time and I remember panicking that they had been in there so long. But they then came out and we left.”
The inquest, led by senior coroner Nigel Parsley, heard that Megan had a ‘sexual encounter’ with a man while at the party - something she had asked her friends not to mention to her long-term girlfriend.
Detective Inspector Daniel Connick told Mr Parsley that an investigation into the incident had been launched after police determined that Megan ‘was likely to have been too intoxicated to have given consent’. But he added that the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to press charges.
The inquest heard that Megan struggled with several mental health issues, including ADHD, depression, anxiety and a tendency to self-harm. She also suffered from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after having been groomed as a child and raped at the age of 14.
At around 6am on the morning of her death, Megan had a PTSD episode, during which she had flashbacks, and was carried to her bedroom by Christchurch House’s night concierge, Michael Hughes, who found her in a hallway.
Mr Hughes, who described Megan as a ‘nice, polite young girl’, said she had been intoxicated at the time and was ‘either asleep or on her way to being asleep’.
“As we were going upstairs, she said ‘I’m sorry I got drunk. I love you Michael, please don’t kick me out,’” he said.
Despite protocols being in place, the inquest heard that Mr Hughes did not inform the duty manager of Megan’s PTSD episode or of her drunken state. He also did not call NHS 111 for advice.
It is also not known if anyone visited Megan in the hours before her death as there is no CCTV coverage on the floor on which she lived.
Phyl Chigome, services manager at Christchurch House, said that in the aftermath of Megan’s death, further provisions had been put in place at the hostel to ensure that all incidents were reported and dealt with efficiently.
He added that although he and the staff at the hostel were aware of Megan’s mental health issues, there had been ‘nothing to suggest she was at risk of taking her life’.
“I knew Megan well and had known her since she moved into the hostel,” he said.
“For the time she was with us, she was a very bubbly, very polite girl, but quite clearly she did have some underlying mental health issues.
“She did go out quite a lot with her friends but she was a well behaved and responsible young lady. She was someone you wouldn’t be concerned about when she went out because she was very responsible.”
Mr Chigome added that Megan had trouble engaging with mental health services and taking medication and as a result, in the days leading up to her death, he had looked into the possibility of finding her alternative accommodation to better fit her needs.
But following a meeting with Megan, her mother Natasha and her social workers, Mr Chigome said he had agreed to let her stay at Christchurch House.
“I spoke to her on the night before her death and she said she was happy to be staying and that her friends were coming over and that they were going to go out and have a good time,” he said.
“There were no signs of distress. She was very very happy and she said she was preparing to go out and had bought a new dress and done her makeup. There were no signs at all of distress.”
The inquest heard that police had broken down the door of Megan’s bedroom at around 10.09am after her friends reported hearing choking sounds coming from her room.
Paramedics were also in attendance and pronounced the teenager dead at the scene.
A post mortem examination, carried out by Home Office forensic pathologist Nathaniel Carey, found the cause of death to be compression of the neck consistent with hanging.
Toxicology tests also revealed traces of MDMA and cocaine metabolites in Megan’s system as well as anxiety medication Xanex, which had not been prescribed to the teenager. A small amount of alcohol - less than the legal driving limit - was also detected.
Mr Parsley concluded that Megan died as a result of misadventure, after he decided that although she hanged herself, he could not be sure she had intended to die.
“I believe Megan would have been too distressed to make any such rational decision. We know she was prone to impulsive acts and with those factors coupled with her young age, I cannot say Megan intended her death,” he said.
“There were two missed opportunities to obtain medical guidance from NHS 111 and the duty manager in the early hours of February 16. But those missed opportunities probably raise more questions than provide answers.
“We have no idea what 111 would have said and we also don’t know what the duty manager would have said. Because we don’t know what might have happened, we can’t say if any additional guidance or support would have changed the tragic outcome.”
He added that he believed a note found in her room, which was addressed to her nan, was written ‘some time if not some significant time before Megan came to her death’.
Stuart Haggar, Megan’s stepdad with whom she was very close, described the teenager, who he had known since she was three years old, as a ‘brilliant person’ who was ‘very clever’.
“She had an infectious personality and she was everybody’s friend,” he said, adding that despite the challenges she had faced in life, she had a positive attitude.
“As far as I could see she was on a confident road to adulthood. She had put on weight, was studying performing arts at college and she thrived on what she could do on her own.”