Family of Britain’s youngest female terror suspect, 16, who ‘took her own life’ after being groomed online say police and MI5 should be questioned over ‘state responsibility’ for her death
- Rhianan Rudd was arrested in 2020 after downloading a bomb-making manual
- For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit samaritans.org
Police and MI5 should be questioned over possible ‘state responsibility’ for the death of Britain’s youngest female terror suspect, her family argue.
A pre-inquest hearing was held today into the death of Rhianan Rudd, who later died in a children’s home where she is believed to have taken her own life.
The youngster had become fixated with the far right after being groomed and sexually abused online by two American white supremacists – one of whom had a relationship with her mother.
Police arrested her in 2020, when she was just 14, after she downloaded a bomb-making manual and was believed to have been planning a terror attack.
She was under suspicion for more than a year – during which she was charged and faced a trial – despite officers and spies knowing she was in fact a victim of grooming.
Rhianan Rudd, pictured, died in a children’s home where she is believed to have taken her own life
The youngster, pictured here with her mother, had become fixated with the far right after being groomed and sexually abused online by two American white supremacists
Barrister Jesse Nicholls, representing Rhianan’s mother Emily Carter, told a pre-inquest hearing ‘the behaviour of the state may have been a contributory factor before she took her own life at a children’s home in May last year.
READ MORE HERE: Mother of schoolgirl, 16, groomed by supremacist says teenager ‘became obsessed with neo-Nazism and hated anyone who wasn’t Aryan’ before she was found hanged
He called for the inquest to consider ‘possible state responsibility’ in relation to the ‘impact on Rhianan’s state of mind’.
Chesterfield Coroner’s Court heard police and MI5 knew Rhianan may have been a victim of child sexual exploitation for at least a year – before she was even arrested.
But they continued to proceed with prosecution for alleged offences. Rhianan was charged with terror offences in April 2021 and was set to face a trial last year. Charges were not withdrawn until December 2021.
Mr Nicholls said: ‘The issue is (whether) in continuing to prosecute and not withdraw prosecution the state contributed to Rhianan’s death.
‘It’s not fine, it should not have been happening in the way it was; there were consequences for Rhianan (and) that matter requires attention.
‘If Rhianan had been identified as a victim earlier and signposted for support, her death could have been avoided.
‘The fact referral (for assessment about whether she was a CSE victim) was not made is relevant to the issue of whether to prosecute a 14-year-old child for months and months and months.
‘The family feel the inquest should examine the decision to prosecute and the significant delay to referral.’
He added: ‘We say that the inquest should investigate how it came to be that Rhianan was subjected to the criminal justice system for alleged terror offences and whether as part of that adequate or appropriate steps were taken to recognise her for what she was – a victim of child sexual exploitation – which resulted in the discontinuance of the prosecution.’
Mr Nicholls said Derbyshire Police knew Rhianan was a victim of child sexual exploitation (CSE) in September 2020, the month before her arrest and referral to the Prevent counter extremism programme – and MI5 may have been aware even earlier.
Rhianan was charged with terror offences in April 2021 but no consideration was made for a referral for support as a potential CSE victim in the meantime, the family’s barrister said.
Charges against Rhianan were dropped after evidence emerged she had been groomed by US neo-Nazi Christopher Cook, pictured, and Ms Carter’s one-time partner Dax Mallaburn, a fellow American white supremacist
Mallaburn, pictured, met Rhianan’s mother via a pen pal system for prisoners
Referral was only made later that month ‘not by police or MI5 but by social services’.
She was finally recognised as a potential victim of child sex grooming in August 2021 but the prosecution was not discontinued for a further four-and-a-half months, Mr Nicholls said.
‘That picture means that for well over a year, possibly longer depending on the date of MI5’s knowledge of Rhianan’s status as a victim of child sexual exploitation that the state was investigating and prosecuting a child which could have resulted in her imprisonment (despite knowing she was a victim)’, Mr Nicholls added.
Mr Nicholls also called for ‘full disclosure’ of what MI5 knew about Rhianan and from when.
Derbyshire Police argued Rhianan was a ‘vulnerable, complex person who they had to take seriously’, and that the deterioration of her mental health was not until 2022.
When officers last spoke to her in April 2022, a month before her death, she was concerned about being trolled online and about a historical Telegram account which had resurfaced but police told her they wouldn’t take further action about that, said Claire Palmer, representing Derbyshire Police.
She told the court that police began investigating Rhianan in September 2020 after her mother referred her to the anti-radicalisation scheme Prevent.
READ MORE HERE: British teenager, 16, killed herself after being charged with terrorism after being influenced by American white supremacist whom her mother met through US prison pen pal scheme
Ms Palmer said that when she was arrested in October 2020, Rhianan was ‘at some degree, in crisis’, and was interviewed about possible sexual exploitation, but did not believe she was a victim.
She said: ‘What the police found was a vulnerable, complex young lady where there were very serious issues.’
Coroner Peter Nieto, area coroner for Derby and Derbyshire, told the hearing in Chesterfield that there ‘may be multiple events or issues that contributed to Rhianan’s state of mind’.
Charges against Rhianan were dropped after evidence emerged she had been groomed by US neo-Nazi Christopher Cook and Ms Carter’s one-time partner Dax Mallaburn, a fellow American white supremacist.
Mallaburn met Rhianan’s mother via a pen pal system for prisoners.
Rhianan, who moved to Derbyshire with her family from Essex in 2012, continued to work with Prevent and was studying for her GSCEs at the time of her death at a residential home in Nottinghamshire.
Speaking to Mail Online in January, Rhianan’s mother Emily Carter said of the police and MI5: ‘They should have seen her as a victim rather than a terrorist.’
Ms Carter said: ‘She became very withdrawn, very secretive. You’d say ‘what you been doing upstairs’ and she would say ‘nothing’ where before she would say she was ‘searching, doing this, doing that.’
‘She wasn’t racist at all and then, all of a sudden, she didn’t like blacks, didn’t like Jews, didn’t like anybody who wasn’t white.
‘If you didn’t have blonde hair and blue eyes and were Aryan, as they say, she didn’t want to know you, you were an inferior race, you shouldn’t have been alive.’
Ms Carter told how her daughter became obsessed with neo-Nazism and was soaking up views ‘like a sponge.’
The pre-inquest review was adjourned for a further hearing in September and a full inquest in February.
For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details
Source: Read Full Article