Student killed herself after being told rape allegation wouldn’t be believed

A PhD student who killed herself had reportedly been told jurors would not believe she had been raped, an inquest has heard.

"Extremely bright" University of Sussex postgraduate Josie Jolley, 25, overdosed on her mum's cancer medication on September 8 last year.

It was heard at Brighton Coroner's Court this week that Josie reported to the police she had been raped in December 2019.

With a lack of evidence and CCTV showing her holding hands with the alleged attacker prior to the incident, no further action was taken by the police, following her interview on January 14.

Friends found Josie's lifeless body in her bed, the Brighton Argus reports.

Detective Inspector James Meanwell of Sussex Police told the inquest CCTV footage from the evening showed Ms Jolley holding hands with her alleged rapist, which would "undermine" a prosecution case.

He said: "Often it's one person's word against another's. The burden of proof is quite high in criminal court and that's where the issue is.

"Josie was interviewed on January 14 last year. In this case, she was saying it was non-consensual and the suspect was saying it was consensual. They had met for the first time that evening.

"There was CCTV footage of them holding hands, which would be undermining for a prosecution to take place."

Senior coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley said: "Josie agreed that when she had originally met this person he had offered her a massage.

"But then she says he wanted more and when she refused, he assaulted and raped her.

"He says it was consensual."

The coroner said: "Clearly there were events in her life which were extremely traumatic, but she had capacity. The assault took place nine months before she died and the relationship ended over a year before she died.

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"Therefore I don’t consider it to be directly causative but I do think there was a lot going on and I think Josie was a worrier.

"She certainly received a great deal of good support from the university.

"The GP service had been excellent and proactive with regard to their contact with Josie.

"She scored highly on questionnaires for depression and anxiety, and I have no doubt she was effectively diagnosed with these. She was appropriately seen and talked to."

One of Ms Jolley's oldest friends, Ruby, told the inquest: "The break-up was something she had processed. The attack happened and I don't think it was something she could get over.

"But I do feel she was someone who could take negative things and apply them to life in a positive way. She was incredibly strong and outgoing."

For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

If you or somebody you know has been affected by this story, contact Victim Support for free, confidential advice on 0845 30 30 900 or visit their website,

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