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Mother calls for new police probe into mystery death of daughter

Mother calls for new police probe over mysterious death of her daughter, 11, after she had been taken into foster care

  • Joanne Lewendon urged police to reinvestigate the death of Georgia Newnham 
  • The 11-year-old was found dead in bed at foster home clutching an aerosol can  
  • The coroner recorded an open conclusion after finding her medical cause of death was cardiac arrest and solvent inhalation
  • However the coroner was unable to establish the circumstances of her death

A mother is calling for a new police probe into the death of her 11-year-old daughter and demanding answers over her mysterious death after an inquest failed to explain the circumstances. 

Joanne Lewendon is calling on Sussex police to re-launch a criminal investigation after Georgia Newnham died on May 15 2017 while in foster care.

The young girl was found dead in her bed just before 8am, clutching an aerosol can of Sure deodorant, at her foster home in Peacehaven, near Brighton.    

In August, East Sussex Coroner Alan Craze recorded an open conclusion after finding her medical cause of death was cardiac arrest and solvent inhalation.

Georgia Newnham, 11, was found dead in her bed just before 8am at her foster home in Peacehaven, near Brighton

But he was unable to establish the circumstances of her death, saying at a previous hearing: ‘Frankly, I cannot make my mind up. This is very rare for me.’

Ms Lewendon, Georgia’s biological mother, claims the original Sussex Police investigation was not thorough and feels the inquest was not probing enough, leaving her with many unanswered questions.

She believes the circumstances may be suspicious and more inquiries need to be carried out.

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She said: ‘The police investigated like she had fallen off her bike.

‘I don’t feel the investigation answered all of the questions surrounding her death.

‘This is my daughter we are talking about.

‘She was an outgoing, loving and happy little girl.

‘We still don’t really know what really happened before she died.

‘There are a lot of questions that are unanswered.

‘The circumstances were very unusual.

‘Something isn’t right – I will fight for answers until I find out the truth.’

Mother Joanne Lewendon is urging Sussex Police to reinvestigate her 11-year-old’s death

Ms Lewendon said the lack of conclusive findings was ‘not good enough’ and she is now seeking legal advice on how to progress her campaign as well as considering reporting the Sussex force to the Independent Office of Police Conduct.

In the meantime, she has launched a petition in a bid to build support and is urging people to get behind her campaign.

She added: ‘I’m doing this to get justice for Georgia but also for other parents out there who may also feel they have been failed by the system in the same way.’

The inquest heard conflicting accounts of Georgia’s use of deodorant.

Her foster mother, Casandra Copping, told the hearing that the young girl was self-conscious about body odour and started using an aerosol but was ‘100% not abusing solvents’ and never put on deodorant under her duvet.

Teacher Jane McCaughan, the head of Year 7 at Peacehaven Community School which Georgia attended, said her personal hygiene was ‘not of concern’ and there was ‘absolutely no doubt’ she was well-cared for.

There was no suggestion that she struggled with substance abuse, she added.

Sussex Police interviewed five people in the investigation and no-one was arrested or charged.

Officers found that the circumstances of Georgia’s death were unexplained and unexpected but not suspicious and there had been ‘no sign of a struggle or forced entry to the room’.

Georgia was fit and well, did not take medication and had not been to hospital for eight years, the inquest heard.

A spokesman said the force carried out a ‘thorough investigation, focusing on how she died whilst taking the advice of medical experts’.

He said: ‘There was no evidence to suggest any suspicious circumstances or the involvement of a third party; her room was initially treated as a potential crime scene and items were seized to ensure that evidential integrity was maintained ahead of any post-mortem and forensic examination.’

But police are reporting the circumstances to a child death safeguarding panel to ‘ensure all appropriate actions has been taken’, he added.

A spokeswoman for Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said she was making inquiries about Ms Lewendon’s concerns.

In the same year as Georgia’s death, the force apologised when double killer Robert Trigg was jailed for the manslaughter of Caroline Devlin and the murder of Susan Nicholson after the original police investigation found no suspicious circumstances and it was decided the women died of natural causes.

To sign Ms Lewendon’s petition visit and search ‘Georgia Newnham’. 

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