Died 4th April 2014
Eleanor de Freitas (22) died by suicide on 4th April 2014. She was a trainee accountant who suffered from bipolar disorder.
De Freitas reported an alleged rape to the police in January 2013, a few days after the alleged incident in which she said she had been drugged then raped. The police investigated the incident, interviewing her and the alleged perpetrator, before telling her that they could not proceed further as there was not a realistic chance of a successful conviction. Her father, David de Freitas said she accepted the decision and tried to get on with her own life.
However, the accused man, pursued a private prosecution for perverting the course of justice. He accused her of making a false allegation of rape. Some months later the Crown Prosecution Service took over the case, against the advice of the police. The trial against Ms De Freitas was due to open on 7th April 2014. On 4th April 2014 she killed herself. She suffered from bi-polar disorder and had previously been sectioned.
The specialist sex-crime officers who investigated the rape complaint made by Eleanor de Freitas, consistently refused to support prosecutors in the case against her for allegedly making up the allegations. They were supported by their senior officer, but overruled by Martin Hewitt, an assistant commissioner at the Metropolitan police after lawyers from the Crown Prosecution Service held a meeting with him.
In a letter, DI Julian King, of Sapphire, the sexual offences investigation unit, said: “I stand by my decision in that I do not believe that Eleanor should ever have been prosecuted for PCJ [perverting the course of justice].”
At the inquest in March 2015, Eleanor de Freitas’ family criticised the Crown Prosecution Service for taking over the private prosecution started by the man she had accused of attacking her. Ms de Freitas’s father, David, told West London coroner’s court that his daughter was embarrassed about evidence that could emerge at her trial “to do with escort services and tantric massage services”.
It emerged after her death that Ms de Freitas had advertised herself on a website offering “tantric massages”, with pictures of her in underwear.
Chinyere Inyama, senior coroner for West London, recorded a verdict of suicide and said the upcoming trial was a “significant stressor”.
Victim Support, Justice for Women and the charity Inquest previously raised concerns about the decision to prosecute De Freitas.
Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, vigorously defended the decision to prosecute, saying it was a unique and tragic case.
The man who brought the case against her, whom she had previously accused of rape, was her former lover, Alexander Economou, the son of a Greek shipping magnate.
Note: This report was drawn from reports in the Guardian and the Times.