‘Bubbly’ teenager reported being raped the night she died
- Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY
A “beautiful, polite and funny” 17-year-old died just hours after a night out during which she reported being raped, an inquest heard.
Megan Younger-Watson, also known as Megan Haggar, had been celebrating being allowed to continue living at the Christchurch House youth hostel with friends at the Grinning Rat pub in Ipswich on February 15, 2019.
Friends told an inquest at Suffolk Coroner's Court on Tuesday that the group had been drinking and taking drugs, with Megan, who rarely went out, telling one friend she “didn’t know what she was doing”.
Once the pub closed at midnight, they went to a flat party, where Megan reported being raped. She told friends on the way home about the attack and was "distraught", according to her friends.
Detective Inspector Daniel Connick told senior Suffolk coroner Nigel Parsley the alleged rape had been investigated with a male suspect identified, but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided against pressing charges.
But he said it was apparent that former Westbourne Academy pupil Megan would have been too intoxicated to consent. He also said she was in a same sex relationship with someone else.
The inquest heard the teenager also witnessed a violent mugging outside the Grinning Rat earlier in the evening and had intervened to help the victim, which the coroner said would have added to the night’s trauma.
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Fellow residents described having to carry Megan home to the hostel in Fonnereau Road later that evening, where she was later captured on CCTV in a corridor in an intoxicated state.
Megan was carried upstairs twice by the night manager and was last seen on CCTV at around 8am entering her partner's room where an argument occurred. She then calmed down and returned to her own room, the inquest was told.
Friends dialled 999 at around 10am after getting no response from her room with paramedics and police having to break the door down. Despite their best efforts, Megan was found dead inside.
Post-mortem results showed she had taken cocaine, MDMA and Xanax - a drug used to treat anxiety - the previous evening. But alcohol levels were below the legal drink-drive limit. Her medical cause of death was given as compression of the neck, consistent with hanging.
The Suffolk New College student, diagnosed with PTSD after an abusive relationship in her early teens, had moved into Christchurch House for more independence while seeking help for anxiety and depression, which had seen her self-harm and attempt overdoses in the past.
A few days before she died, Megan had been told she may be evicted from Christchurch House due to ongoing concerns about her mental wellbeing, engagement with GPs and medication.
Phyl Chigome, Christchurch House’s service manager, said he decided against evicting Megan after becoming satisfied with her future plans following a meeting with her mother and key worker.
Megan’s mother, Natashia Younger-Watson, told the court she felt more could have been done to protect her daughter on the night she died.
The inquest heard there was no staff member on site between 6.30am and 1pm on Saturdays.
Ms Younger-Watson said she was concerned nobody in charge was alerted to her daughter’s mental state and questioned why she was left alone, despite still being a child.
Mr Chigome said it was the night concierge’s intention at the time to ensure Megan was safe, but added that there was an escalation process in place where the on-call manager could be contacted with concerns over a resident’s wellbeing.
He said staff now start at 7am on Saturdays, adding that an internal review had reminded staff of correct procedures.
The coroner pointed to two “missed opportunities” where advice was not sought from NHS 111 as to how to deal with Megan and a duty manager not being informed.
He also raised concerns about the extent of CCTV coverage in Christchurch House and said he would be requesting more information about this, requiring a response within 28 days.
Mr Parsley said he felt Megan’s behaviour the night before she died seemed “out of character”.
Her father, Stuart Haggar, described how Megan appeared to have turned a corner and had been on a “confident road to adulthood” the year before she died, starting driving lessons and enjoying her performing arts college course.
Recording a conclusion of misadventure, the coroner said he believed Megan would have been too distraught from the events of the previous evening to make any rational decision to end her own life. He also said that her mental health issues made her prone to impulsive acts.
Megan's family previously paid tribute to the “bubbly” teenager, with her mother describing her as “beautiful, inside and out”.
The Grinning Rat has since had a licence review was shut down in May 2019.