A woman whose 17-year-old brother took his own life after being falsely accused of rape tells how he was left ‘a shell of his former self’ following the allegation in a new BBC documentary.
Sixth form student Jay Cheshire, of Southampton, was ‘distraught’ to find himself at the centre of a police investigation when a girl accused him of rape in spring 2015.
The girl dropped the charges after two weeks but by then Jay, who was described as a ‘gentleman’ and ‘intelligent’, had already ‘spiralled completely’.
‘I don’t think I’ve ever really seen a boy bellow and cry and just be as distraught as he was,’ his older sister Camellia says in I Am Not A Rapist, which is available on iPlayer and airs tonight at 10.45pm. ‘It was like he’d had his soul ripped away.’
Weeks after the accusations were withdrawn Jay took his own life. ‘He’d bought his favourite energy drink, his favourite bag of crisps, and a length of rope,’ Camellia recalls. ‘He was found by a dog walker… It was a tree we used to play on when we were younger.’
Sixth form student Jay Cheshire, of Southampton, hanged himself near the family home in July 2015, weeks after he was falsely accused of rape by a girl. Pictured, Jay with his mother and sister Camellia, who appears in BBC documentary I Am Not A Rapist
Speaking on BBC documentary I Am Not A Rapist, which airs tonight at 10.45pm, his older sister Camellia explains how her brother’s life was destroyed by the false accusation
I Am Not A Rapist tells the dramatic story of three young men falsely accused of rape, and the devastating consequences the allegations had on their lives.
Jay was a sixth form student at Bitterne Park School in the city studying English Literature, Film Studies and Geography and hoped to study history at university.
‘Jay was a gentleman from the get-go,’ Camellia recalls. ‘He was sweet, intelligent and wildly capable of anything.’
The ordeal started one night in the spring of 2015 when Jay returned home ‘distraught’ after an incident with a girl.
Camellia recalls: ‘Jay said they were involved in foreplay, he was laying next to her and he’d gotten on top of her and she just froze.
‘He sat back and kept asking her again and again: “What’s the matter? What’s wrong? Have I done something wrong?” And she said that she wanted him to go home.’
Camellia later phoned the girl and put the call on loudspeaker so Jay could listen.
‘She [the girl] answered the phone and I said “hi” and she said “hi”. Her mother grabbed the phone off her and said they’ve put in a rape allegation. [She said] “I’m going to f****** get him done”.’
Jay phoned the police himself for more information and was told a complaint had been made against him and he agreed to go to the station for voluntary questioning.
Jay was a sixth form student at Bitterne Park School in the city studying English Literature, Film Studies and Geography and hoped to study history at university. Pictured, with Camellia
Camellia holds the letter written by Jay before his suicide. It says: ‘To the ones I love’
Camellia reads the letter written by Jay ‘to Milly and Mum’. Part of the letter reads: ‘Mum, you have been the greatest Mum’. Jay died in hospital on July 5, two days after his body was found
The duty solicitor advised Jay to refrain from answering the police officer’s question because, in his mind, the girl’s original statement was full of inconsistencies and ‘there was nothing there’.
‘When the police officer came in, she was all guns blazing,’ remembers Camellia, who was allowed to accompany her brother because he was a minor. ‘She didn’t hold back.
‘”Did you rape her? Did you force her? Did you penetrate her?” The way she was wording the things she was saying, it made Jay want to answer. The more times he said “no comment” when he wanted to answer these questions. The more the tears were streaming. I could feel him shaking under my hand. He was treated like a criminal. And I thought, “Look at him, he’s a boy”.’
Jay was released under investigation.
‘Jay, from that moment, was just a shell of a person,’ Camellia recalls. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever really seen a boy bellow and cry and just be as distraught as he was. It was like he’d had his soul ripped away.’
Two weeks later the family was told the girl had dropped the allegation and that there would be no further action taken against Jay. But Camellia believes that the damage had already been done.
Camellia said her brother was left a ‘shell’ of his former self after he was interviewed by police. He hanged himself on a tree he and Camellia (pictured) used to play on as children
She continues: ‘By this point, he had spiralled completely. To be branded with something like that, if you haven’t done it, it’s a big thing. We were all very, very distraught.’
Camellia and her mother were at home when the police came to the door to say Jay had been found.
‘We get a knock on the door and my Mum screams up to me upstairs and she says “Jay’s hung himself Camellia, we need to get our clothes on and we need to go to hospital”,’ Camellia recalls, breaking down as she remembers the night.
‘The police officer told us he’d bought his favourite energy drink, his favourite bag of crisps, and a length of rope. He was found by a dog walker. They called the police and they cut him down. It was a tree we used to play on when we were younger.
‘They managed to revive him and get a heartbeat but he’d sustained so much brain damage that he wasn’t there anymore. He was 17 and he died on the 5 July 2015.’
An inquest at Winchester Coroners Court, Hampshire, heard Jay struggled to cope with the false accusations and was ‘absolutely distraught.’
The court also heard he had a history of having a low mood, was put on anti-depressants and was due to undergo cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT).
He had a psychiatrist since the age of 13 but in March 2015 his state of mind improved, leading to doctors agreeing that CBT was not urgently needed any more.
However in May, Jay’s family contacted them once more saying he was under pressure because of the police investigation.
On June 24, just over a week before he died, he told psychiatrists at the Orchard Centre in Southampton that the investigation was over and he was expecting to find work.
Central Hampshire senior coroner Grahame Short recorded a verdict of suicide and said he struggled to cope with the false accusations and the investigation.
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I Am Not A Rapist airs tonight at 10.45pm on BBC1 and is available to view on iPlayer