Allegation Dalton teen raped in incident involving firearm
Last updated at 14:54, Thursday, 05 July 2012
FRIENDS found a depressed 20-year-old dead following an allegation he had been raped, an inquest heard.
Steven Devine was found in an outhouse behind his Dalton home on July 18 and pronounced dead in Furness General Hospital later that day.
An inquest was yesterday told a friend had called police days earlier to allege Mr Devine had been sexually assaulted in an incident which involved a firearm.
Joe Devine, the former Dowdales School pupil’s dad, criticised the police investigation into the allegation and confirmed he had contacted the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
The inquest in Barrow Town Hall heard that, on the day of his death, friends had gone to Mr Devine’s Ulverston Road home to see if he was okay.
They contacted Mr Devine’s dad after they found him hanged in the outhouse and Mr Devine Snr and a friend carried out CPR before paramedics arrived.
Mr Devine was pronounced dead at 8.20pm following more attempts to resuscitate him in hospital.
DC Wayne Dixon, of Barrow CID, told the inquest officers had visited Mr Devine following the allegation. He was taken to the police station, but refused to give a statement or be medically examined.
DC Dixon said: “Once we receive an allegation, we’re duty-bound to investigate it. We proceeded with it like a normal inquiry. We identified the offender and the location of the offence. The offender was arrested and evidence seized from said person, but there were no charges brought.”
DC Dixon said he made several attempts to speak to Mr Devine to clear up the issue of consent.
He received a return phone call from Mr Devine and they arranged to meet, but he died the same day.
Detective Inspector Steve Johnson said there was mention of a threat to use a firearm and Mr Devine could be heard crying when the original call was made to police,
He said it was “abundantly clear” he did not wish to prosecute, but police were aware that rape trauma syndrome – where facts become more clear to victims in the fullness of time – is a recognised problem.
Describing the subsequent investigation, DI Johnson said: “It’s about Steven, but there are more issues to consider around sexual offenders in the community, around risk, around firearms – we can’t just ignore them.
“When it was clear he was not willing to make a statement, we were left with the option to offer advice – South Cumbria Rape and Abuse Service, the GUM clinic for sexual advice.”
Mr Devine Snr was angry DC Dixon spoke to his son over the phone, and said his son’s friends gave the impression he felt under pressure to comply with police.
He described the police as “inadequate” and “negligent” and told the hearing: “Steven, before he spoke to DC Dixon, had absolutely no intention of ending his life all throughout the day.
“He’d gone to work and had a bus pass ticket for the week.
“Whatever has been said has catastrophically changed his outlook on things within a matter of minutes. In my mind, it’s clear he was assaulted. He was not a liar; he didn’t like aggravation.
“He was obviously frightened and I just think it could’ve been handled so much better than it was to avoid what’s happened.”
Mr Ian Smith, South and East Cumbria coroner recorded the death as a result of Mr Devine’s own actions while suffering from depression, for which his GP confirmed he was prescribed medication.
Best friend Jessica Struckman said in a statement: “Steven was loved by so many – he was the best son, brother and friend that anyone could have asked for.”
First published at 13:11, Thursday, 05 July 2012
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
Have your say
Whats wrong with the local newspaper printing, what has been said in an inquest.
are they meant to not report news if it might upset someone?.
I never knew this poor boy, but I do have to say that I find this article to be incredibly insensitive to the young man's family, whom I believe had not chosen to have this information broadcast around the Furness Peninsula. The North West Evening Mail want to take a long, hard look at what they are writing, this is dreadful and my heart truly goes out to the family of Steven.
View all 15 comments on this article