Rochdale rape allegations death: Tracey Shelvey dies in fall from car park roof after man is cleared of sexual attack

Greater Manchester's Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd has called for a 'root and branch review' into how witnesses are treated in cases of alleged sexual abuse

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The Independent Online

A woman has died after falling from a car park roof, just days after she was told a man accused of raping her had been found not guilty.

Tracy Shelvey, 41, was described as angry and upset when officers from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) visited her home on Friday to inform her of the verdict passed earlier that day.

Ms Shelvey was one of the complainants in a rape case which concluded at the end of last week, when 24-year-old Patrick Hall was cleared of attacking three women.

Yesterday morning officers were called to the Wheatsheaf car park in Rochdale to reports of a woman on the roof. BBC News reported that upon arriving to find Ms Shelvey they tried to resolve the situation, but she later fell and suffered fatal injuries.

The incident comes almost one year after Frances Andrade, 48, was found dead after giving evidence during a sex abuse trial against a choir director and his ex-wife in Manchester.

Speaking after yesterday's incident, Greater Manchester's Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd told the BBC: “This can't go on - a root and branch review of how victims and witnesses are treated is urgently needed.”

Mr Lloyd said courts in cases of alleged sex abuse were not putting witnesses “where they should be - at the heart of the criminal justice system”.

He said: “The court process is a brutal one, and the fact that we have had at least two people in Greater Manchester alone who have taken their lives after going through this ordeal is of grave concern.

“Many, many rape victims say that the court process is as traumatic as their original ordeal,” he added.

Ms Shelvey's case has now been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) – a step which is required in incidents where victims have recently had contact with officers.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said the two officers who visited the woman on Friday were specially trained, and had been providing her with support since she first made her complaint.

Later on Friday the woman had called police in a distressed state, and officers returned to her home accompanied by ambulance staff.

She was calmer when the officers attended, police said, and they again gave her advice and made a further referral to partner agencies helping to give her support.

GMP said a full investigation would be carried out by the IPCC to establish the circumstances surrounding her death.

Assistant Chief Constable Dawn Copley said: “I would firstly like to offer my condolences to the family of the woman who has sadly died. Our thoughts are with the family at what is clearly a traumatic time for them and we will be offering them as much support and welfare as they need over the coming days and weeks.

“The woman had been a complainant in a case that recently concluded at court, and throughout that process specially trained officers from Greater Manchester Police had been providing her with regular support and advice.

“This is a terribly sad end to what has been a long and difficult case.

“A full investigation will be carried out to establish the circumstances leading up to this woman's death and it is important, especially for the woman's family, that we do not speculate about what may have happened until all the facts are known.”

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