“Belfast social services placed my girl in a B&B where she was raped,” said the heartbroken mother of the tragic Gabrielle Connolly
A MOTHER whose deceased daughter is said to have been raped in a social housing unit has called for police control over where vulnerable young people are being placed.
Isa Arthurs told Sunday Life that her beloved child Gabrielle Connolly was subjected to a serious sexual assault last October.
But the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust was satisfied that the then 17-year-old was moved back to the same property where the attack occurred.
“Gabrielle was a happy, good-hearted young girl, I was having a rough time with her younger brother Thomas and the house was in turmoil,” explained Belfast woman Lisa.
But Gabrielle passed five GCSEs and she went on to do A-Levels and asked if she could take a break.
She then had two jobs and had a boyfriend, but her relationship with the boyfriend broke up.
Gabrielle’s behavior got worse and she left home at 5pm. I asked social services for help and moved to a hostel.
She was then placed in a B&B where she was raped and this is an ongoing investigation. After that, Gabrielle was never the same again. “
Gabrielle, an ex-student at Trinity College, Belfast, was assessed at The Rowan’s Sexual Abuse Reference Center, but was to be returned to the same accommodation where she was attacked.
Lisa sought the help of Hunt Solicitors’ lawyer Ciaran Mooney, who contested the High Court decision.
The action was withdrawn after a few weeks when the trust found alternative forms of housing, while Gabrielle now lived at home.
A Belfast Trust spokesman said: “We appreciate that this is a difficult time for Ms Connolly (Arthurs) and we are very sorry to hear that Gabrielle has died.
“Unfortunately, we cannot comment on this individual case currently under investigation by the police.”
Mr. Mooney said, “The Trust confirmed that they do not carry out police checks and access to where vulnerable people live, but if you want to work with the Trust you need those checks, so why not carry them out when they place young vulnerable adults? “
Lisa continued, “Her mental health deteriorated and she ran through the streets of the city center, dealing with older men. She then spent three months in secure housing and then she came and I begged her to stay in the house where I could protect her. “
A friend came to my door and told me that a girl’s body had been found in a house on a street in Belfast
Gabrielle was then placed in another suite of hostels and B & Bs in Londonderry, Maghera, Portstewart, Belfast and other Northern Ireland locations.
On the Sunday before she was found dead on July 10 in a house in West Belfast, Gabrielle returned home and was in “great shape,” Lisa said.
“I dyed her hair and she got breakfast with scrambled eggs and toast, and I dropped her again sometime in the afternoon,” explained Lisa.
“The next time I heard from her, she asked a woman outside the Rock Bar to use her phone and told her to call the hostel while she was away.”
Gabrielle was subsequently seen four times in central Belfast and again in the west of the city, and police were called on for her whereabouts.
“At lunchtime on Friday, July 10, a friend came to my door and told me that a girl’s body had been found in a house on a street in Belfast,” said Lisa.
The police investigation into her death is ongoing.
Lisa said, “She was beautiful, she had sparkling white teeth, she took care of herself and wanted to do things with her life.
“You think where the Trust places the child is safe and it turns out it wasn’t.
“It’s the next boy who gets hurt, and if I can do something to help them, I’ll do it.”