A talented young woman took her own life after being sexually assaulted at a 21st birthday party by a man who filmed the attack, an inquest has heard.
Sophie Clarke, 26, was found dead at her family’s holiday home in New Polzeath, Cornwall last year after writing a note that said she had ‘battled this for years’.
She had a long history of anxiety and depression and was from suffering from stress as she revised for her final exams while working as a surveyor for Savills. The yoga instructor had been bullied at school and stopped eating, which resulted in her being hospitalized at a young age, the hearing in Truro, Cornwall was told.
The sexual attack – which happened years before her death – left her distressed, GP Dr Nasiruddin claimed. ‘
Sophie felt too embarrassed to report the horrific incident and told the doctor she ‘picked really bad guys or pushed them away and sabotaged relationships’.
She had recently asked her employer if she could work from home while revising for exams after being told to go into the office while it was mostly empty during lockdown.
Her boss knew she was struggling with anxiety but is said to have ‘flatly refused’ her request, with the company promptly moving her to another team.
Dr Nasiruddin says she told Sophie she could provide a medical certificate to cover reasonable adjustments to work due to her anxiety and depression – but she refused, saying the negative response had made her feel vulnerable and she feared being ‘stigmatised and labelled’ as ‘having baggage’.
The young woman, from London, travelled to her family’s Cornwall holiday home in October ‘for a breather’.
Her mum Sara said she was upset when she arrived after saying goodbye to her two younger sisters in the capital.
She said: ‘She was definitely upset when she arrived which in hindsight probably was due to the fact that she knew she had said goodbye to her sisters, so we were concerned when she arrived.
‘But she had a good night’s sleep and got up and did normal things like go for a run at 7am and then she got down to her revision and we had a day and a half of good times with her.
‘I suggested I stay and she got quite cross with me and said, “mum I’m fine”. I said I’ll stay with the dog and I’ll cook for you and be here and get on and I’ll be around but she was quite adamant she wanted us to go.
‘I think she decided she just didn’t want us around whether she had a plan, we will never know, but she was quite clear she wanted us to go.’
Sophie’s concerned mum contacted her friend when she stopped replying to text messages. They both travelled to the house to find her body on the morning of October 7 last year.
A handwritten note on the floor near to some of her revision cards and pens read: ‘I have battled this for so long, literally years. I am at peace with my decision.’
The acting senior coroner for Cornwall Andrew Cox recorded a suicide conclusion.
Sophie’s heartbroken parents Sara and Rupert have paid tribute to their ‘passionate and talented’ daughter whose ‘sense of fun and spirit of adventure’ will be remembered forever.
They said: ‘Sophie was a passionate person and had many interests. She was a fitness fanatic and often ran 5km along the coastal path before starting her day’s work.
‘She was also a yoga instructor and ran free early morning virtual yoga classes from Polzeath beach during lockdown.
‘Sophie was into most sports – for example she spent two seasons as a waterski instructor at Camel Ski in Rock and worked a ski season in Méribel.
‘She was also a fanatical paddle boarder often paddling out to Pentire Point, also an accomplished off piste skier and was junior tennis champion at our local tennis club in London.
‘Sophie was also a talented artist and filled the diary of her many travels around the world (eg Europe, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Bali) with sketches of places and people.
‘Most of all Sophie made good friends and lasting relationships everywhere she went. Her friends live all over the world but are mainly from Cornwall and London. Everyone will remember her for her ever-present laughter and sense of fun, and for her spirit of adventure.’
Her family has started The Sophie Clarke Foundation to raise awareness and address mental health issues, in particular relating to suicide prevention.
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