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Last Updated: Friday, 25 January 2008, 16:36 GMT
Student killed herself after rape
Harriet McCormick
Harriet McCormick was about to begin a language degree
A 20-year-old woman who killed herself nine months after she was raped blamed herself for the attack, an inquest has heard.

Harriet McCormick was about to start university when she jumped from a footbridge over the M4 motorway.

Miss McCormick, of Radyr, Cardiff, had twice before tried to kill herself after the attack during a night out.

The coroner said she died as a "direct consequence" of the rape and it was "an extraordinarily sad story".

Miss McCormick's body was found by a lorry driver on the hard shoulder of the M4 motorway at Radyr just after midnight on 26 August, 2007 underneath a footbridge.

I'm appalled by this, that so many young women could have been so badly injured by the actions - the terrible actions - of one man
Coroner Mary Hassell

Nine months before she was attacked in a car park after a night out with friends.

Her mother Cheryl McCormick said her daughter and her friends had all been dressed as a policewomen.

She told her mother about the rape the next morning but did not inform police as she could not remember enough about the man, said to be tall and with a south Wales valleys accent, the inquest heard.

Nurse Mrs McCormick said: "I think she felt dirty. She felt as if she'd been violated."

Harriet McCormick
The student's distress affected some of her friends, the inquest heard

Her mother described how afterwards Harriet, who had been about to start a degree at Bristol University when she died, suffered flashbacks and insomnia.

She felt very vulnerable and found it "difficult to cope," she added.

Miss McCormick was diagnosed with depression and post traumatic disorder, the inquest heard.

She was referred to psychiatrist after an initial suicide attempt and was making progress, before she was found dead.

A post mortem examination found she died of a blunt head injury. Toxicology tests revealed her blood alcohol levels were double the drink-drive limit.

Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan coroner Mary Hassell read out an e-mail Miss McCormick had written to the Samaritans.

She wrote: "I'm finding life really difficult at the moment. It's even a struggle to get out of bed. The first thing I think about is dying, and I'm worried because I want it to happen.

'Get over me'

Her e-mail went on: "I've been through something traumatic. Though I hate feeling sorry for myself, it's been the hardest thing I've had to deal with in my life."

Speaking about her overdose, and the effect her death would have on people, she said: "I just thought that with time they would get over me, and everyone would be better off."

She finished her e-mail: "Mostly, I want all the pain to end".

The coroner recorded a verdict saying Miss McCormick "took her own life as a direct consequence of the deterioration in her formerly excellent mental health because of the rape".

The inquest was told Miss McCormick had self-harmed after the attack, as did some of her friends.

Ms Hassell said: "The knock-on effects of this rape were so severe that her friends' mental health had deteriorated as a result of Harriet's deterioration of mental health.

"I'm appalled by this, that so many young women could have been so badly injured by the actions - the terrible actions - of one man".



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