An ambulance worker was sacked over an ‘inappropriate’ sexual relationship with a troubled and vulnerable young woman who was later found dead by her carers, an inquest has heard.
Jade Rayner’s social worker at the time said she believed the 28-year-old, who was battling alcohol addiction and mental health difficulties, was ‘sexually exploited’ by the emergency medical technician (EMT).
Greater Manchester Police has been criticised by Jade’s family for failing to investigate the relationship and, at an inquest into her death, a coroner also said she would be writing to the force to highlight the case and issues of recording crime and support for victims.
An ambulance worker was sacked over an ‘inappropriate’ sexual relationship with Jade Rayner, 28, (pictured) who was later found dead by her carers, an inquest has heard
Jade died last year after taking a ‘high quantity’ of alcohol, as well as an anti-depressant. Her death was not suspicious, police said.
The inquest heard the EMT, who wasn’t named in the hearing, was part of an ambulance crew that attended a 999 call to Jade’s flat on Hazel Grove, Stockport, on September 27, 2019.
The inquest was told Jade appeared drunk, was covered in bruises and wrongly believed someone was in her flat.
At the time, her family said, Jade was binge drinking vodka and wine and suffering seizures.
She was taking prescribed anti-depressants and medication for epilepsy.
Stockport Coroners Court heard Jade refused to go to hospital, but the ambulance crew flagged a ‘safeguarding concern’ and recognised she was vulnerable.
She was found dead at her flat in Hazel Grove, Stockport, Greater Manchester, in March last year
Police, however, believed it was a ‘mental heath matter’, the inquest was told, and later classed Jade as having ‘capacity’.
The inquest heard the emergency medical technician – who was said to be aged ’40 odd’ – wrote down the code to a key safe on Jade’s door on a pair of surgical gloves before the crew left.
He then subsequently visited Jade’s flat, the inquest was told. Her family said he used a ‘ruse’ of collecting something he left behind.
Jade confided in her mum Gaynor more than a week later, and the mum then alerted her social worker. She told North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) on October 8, 2019, and police were informed.
Daniel Smith, head of paramedic emergency services at NWAS in Greater Manchester, said the man was suspended from ‘patient-facing roles’ and dismissed after a disciplinary hearing.
Mr Smith said the EMT ‘instigated’ contact with Jade and a relationship commenced that was sexual in nature.
Giving evidence at the inquest, Mr Smith said: ‘I do not think words express how sorry I am.
‘We condemn wholeheartedly his actions. We have dealt with this as robustly as we can.’
The case has resulted in the drafting of new policies for staff, Mr Smith added.
GMP sergeant Julian Scarsbrook said the report to the force was ‘not recorded as a crime’ and the officer who assessed the case found Jade had ‘full capacity and was only vulnerable because of her alcoholism’.
The inquest heard the EMT, who wasn’t named in the hearing, was part of an ambulance crew that attended a 999 call to Jade’s flat on Hazel Grove, Stockport, on September 27, 2019
He said he didn’t know how that officer reached the conclusion he did.
Police made social services aware, but the inquest was told nothing further was done.
Jade’s social worker at the time, Paula Smith, said after police and NWAS were alerted, she spoke to Jade who told her she didn’t know the man’s last name, where he lived or anything about him.
‘I was so concerned. I was really, really concerned about her vulnerability,’ Ms Smith said.
She said Jade had marks around her face and cuts to her face and lips.
‘All Jade was bothered about was getting him into trouble,’ Ms Smith said, saying that in her opinion, Jade had been ‘sexually exploited’.
Greater Manchester Police has been criticised by Jade’s family for failing to investigate the relationship. Pictured: Miss Rayner
‘It looked like she had been held and bitten,’ said Ms Smith. ‘I can only assume the injuries were done by a third party.
‘She could not have caused the injuries to herself.
‘She had admitted that she had sexual intercourse with a paramedic to police. Police said she had capacity.’
Between February 2019 and her death in March last year, NWAS had 14 contacts with Jade, the inquest was told.
In one case, she was found collapsed with an empty wine bottle in the toilets of a restaurant in Manchester.
In total the ambulance service recorded seven ‘safeguarding concerns’ in relation to Jade, who was also convicted of driving five times over the legal drink-drive limit in a high-profile case in Manchester in 2015.
Former Selfridges worker Jade was found dead in bed by her carers at her flat on March 30 last year.
Police also found empty wine bottles, the inquest heard.
A toxicology report found a high quantity of alcohol in her system as well as an anti-depressant.
A cause of death was given as the ‘toxic effect’ of the anti-depressant, with ‘excess alcohol’ said to be a contributing factor.
The tragedy was not treated by police as suspicious.
The inquest heard the ‘turning point’ in Jade’s life, from 2011, was an ‘abusive and coercive relationship’ with a man who would call her fat and ugly and forced her to quit her university degree.
At the time of her death, Jade had been to stay at an addiction treatment centre and was in a new, healthy relationship.
Gaynor Rayner said her daughter was let down by the healthcare system.
‘I believe that if Jade had suffered from an eating disorder because of her mental health issues it would have been dealt with, but because it was alcohol, it was not,’ she said.
‘She did not want to die. We thought things had turned the corner and would get better for Jade.
‘We thought that there was light at the end of the tunnel – then the police officer came around. We do not think she intended to take her own life.’
Coroner Alison Mutch recorded a verdict of accidental death and praised Jade’s family for the support they gave her.
Domestic abuse, the coroner said, changed the course of Jade’s life and had a ‘profound and lasting’ impact on her mental health.
‘She turned to alcohol,’ Ms Mutch said.
‘When she drank she became extremely vulnerable. Her capacity to make decisions fluctuated.’
GMP faced a scathing report from the police inspectorate last year, which found 80,000 crimes in a year weren’t recorded properly.
And Ms Mutch said that ‘for reasons that are not entirely clear’ the report of Jade’s relationship with the EMT was ‘not recorded as a crime’ and Jade was not ‘flagged’ to victim support services.
‘The report was in effect written off by an officer from GMP without any detailed investigation being undertaken,’ the coroner said.
‘The outcome of that appears to be that it had not been treated as a crime by those tasked with investigating alleged criminal behaviour.
‘What’s not clear to me is why it was not dealt with as a crime report.’ Mrs Rayner said after the inquest of her daughter’s relationship with the medic: ‘It was a crime and it should have been investigated.
‘He knew Jade was vulnerable – and then returned.
‘I do think police should look at it again. He told Jade he was a paramedic, but she knew nothing about him.
‘Jade would grab on to anyone who would pay her attention she was so vulnerable.’
Mrs Rayner said the EMT told Jade not to tell anyone because he would lose his job.
‘She just wanted a normal life like anyone else,’ she said. ‘Anyone who would offer her that, she would cling onto.’
Mr Smith, for NWAS, said in a statement to the M.E.N. afterwards: ‘Our deepest sympathies remain with Jade’s family in what remains an incredibly difficult time for them.
‘We acknowledge the coroner’s findings and thank her for her handling of the case.
‘It was recognised that NWAS acted proactively in identifying Jade’s extreme vulnerability and properly in regards to our actions once we were alerted to the inappropriate relationship that had started between our staff member and her.
‘As soon as we became aware, we investigated the matter and were left with no alternative but to dismiss the staff member in question. The actions of this individual were not in line with the values and standards our organisation upholds and to which we expect all our staff to adhere.
‘We recognise that this must have placed additional stress on Jade’s family and we are very sorry that this happened.’