'Lovable rogue', 26, killed himself being found innocent at rape trial
‘Lovable rogue’, 26, who was cleared of a sex attack charge killed himself because he thought the rapist ‘label’ would still stick with him forever, inquest hears
- Grant Townsend, 26, of west Hull, was found dead June 6 after taking his own life
- Inquest concluded he had intended to kill himself following a rape trial acquittal
- Mother, Keely Gillbey, told court he believed ‘title of rapist would never go away’
- For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details
A 26-year-old man described as a ‘loveable rogue who always wore a smile’ tragically took his own life after he was falsely accused of rape.
Grant Townsend, who lived in Starella Grove, west Hull, was found dead by his mother in the house they shared on June 6, after battling with mental health issues for a number of years.
An inquest at Hull Coroner’s Court concluded that Mr Townsend had intended to kill himself after struggling to move on from an allegation of rape made against him, which he was acquitted of at a trial.
His mother, Keely Gillbey, told the inquest that her son believed ‘the title of rapist would never go away’ despite being found innocent.
Ms Gillbey said that it was after these accusations that Mr Townsend ‘found it difficult to leave the house’ but that he continued to tell her that he was alright and didn’t need any support, despite his mother later finding a suicide note in his room where ‘he claimed his innocence’.
Grant Townsend, 26, who lived in Starella Grove, west Hull, was found dead by his mother in the house they shared on June 6, after struggling with mental health issues
She told the court that the pair never discussed the note but that Mr Townsend must have known she knew because she had disposed of the tablets found in his room.
The court heard that Mr Townsend met a woman not long after the incident, and the two soon entered a relationship after a year of friendship.
‘They got a house together but they did have problems’, Ms Gillbey told the court.
After struggling to find jobs, the strain of the relationship became too much for them and Mr Townsend was kicked out of the house the pair had together.
Ms Gillbey told the court: ‘The day he came home he sobbed and he could barely go outside and was fed up with everything.’
She said she came home to find Mr Townsend sobbing in the kitchen and knew he was struggling and ‘crying himself to sleep’.
The court heard how Mr Townsend had struggled to come to terms with a number of incidents since the age of 10, including abuse his mother suffered and the death of his uncle.
An inquest at Hull Coroner’s Court concluded Mr Townsend had intended to kill himself after struggling to move on from an allegation of rape, despite being found innocent
Born in Kent, the court heard how the breakdown of Mr Townsend’s parents relationship led to their relocation to Hull where he started secondary school at Pickering High School.
His mother told the court it was then that Mr Townsend ‘was bullied for his accent and began hanging around with the wrong crowd’.
Evidence from Ms Gillbey told the court that Grant had ‘found it difficult to understand and cope with knowing what his mum had been through.’
‘He was later accused of rape and was found innocent but believed the title of rapist would never go away.’
Speaking of Mr Townsend’s mental health after the inquest, Ms Gillbey said: ‘He found it very hard to cope with [the abuse Keely had faced in the past] and then losing his Uncle Grant, who he was named after, in a motorcycle accident 11 years ago – he took that really really hard and that’s when I really did notice a decline in Grant.’
Although Ms Gillbey said that it was in 2017 that Mr Townsend’s mental health got ‘progressively worse’ after he was falsely accused of rape.
The court also heard how Mr Townsend’s past medical history included both depression and anxiety
She said: ‘He was found not guilty – it took them less than 10 minutes for all of them to come back with a not guilty verdict.
‘But it affected Grant in a big, big way, especially knowing what I had gone through as a child. To be accused of that affected him big time, it really did. I watched him deteriorate.’
The court also heard how Mr Townsend’s past medical history included both depression and anxiety, which he was later prescribed medication for. Although Mr Townsend failed to pick up his repeat prescription.
Mr Townsend with his dog Kilo who he ‘worshipped’
It was at 5.30am on June 6 that Ms Gillbey came downstairs to find Mr Townsend asleep on the sofa before leaving for work.
In evidence told to Hull Coroner’s Court, Ms Gillbey spoke of the phone conversation between the pair after she had arrived at work, where Mr Townsend asked whether or not his dog had ‘settled’ the night previous.
Speaking after the inquest, Ms Gillbey said: ‘His dog Kilo was his life. It wasn’t just his dog it was his baby, he slept with Grant, he ate with Grant, he went everywhere with Grant.
‘He absolutely worshipped him. I think that’s why when I spoke to him in the morning, I should have clicked then that something wasn’t right because he kept asking me ‘did the dog settle with you last night’ and whether or not ‘the dog was definitely alright with you mum, definitely, definitely alright’.
‘I was at work and I was rushed and my brain didn’t click into gear until got home and I found him. I then knew why he was so adamant about the dog being okay because he knew what he was going to do.’
Ms Gillbey discovered the body her son on returning home from work, and despite neighbours performing CPR, paramedics confirmed Mr Townsend had sadly passed away.
Remembering Mr Townsend, Ms Gillbey said: ‘He was a bit of a loveable rogue. To look at him, to meet him, you wouldn’t know that anything was wrong.
‘He always wore a smile when you’d see him, he was always up for a laugh, loved being around his mates and his mates loved him being around them.
Remembering Mr Townsend, Ms Gillbey said her son was a ‘loveable rogue’ and said ‘To look at him, to meet him, you wouldn’t know that anything was wrong’
‘He was a Jack the lad, all the girls liked him – he was a very good looking lad. But obviously he was suffering deeply within.
‘Grant had the most amazing laugh, if you were in a room of 50 and Grant laughed you would know instantly that it was Grant. I will treasure that for the rest of my life.
‘I miss absolutely everything, even the bad times. I would give anything for him to come in and tell me I’m a bad mum or ask me ‘mum can you lend us a tenner’.
‘I’d do anything to hear those words again. Unfortunately I can’t and I won’t ever hear them again but his laugh.
‘I’ll always have because one of my family members put it into a Build a Bear. That’s how well he’s known for his laugh and the fact that believe it or not – he did walk around with a smile.
‘Knowing that inside his head was turmoil, his face never showed it. I think that goes for a lot of men that are suffering out there, they all walk around out there with a smile on their face.’
Coroner Michael Mellun said that the conclusion of Mr Townsend’s death was suicide, stating that: ‘Not only did he die through his own actions but he did intent to die, taking into account that he had been suffering from anxiety and depression and the allegation of rape still weighed heavily above him.’
Ms Gillbey says she doesn’t think there is enough support for men battling mental illness, and wants Mr Townsend’s death to show others that it’s okay to speak out: ‘I don’t think there is enough support for young men – or men of any age – that suffer with mental health and I think that needs to be looked into more.
‘It’s just a complete and utter waste of a life. I would just like to stress to everybody who reads Grant’s story that it is okay not to be okay and it doesn’t make you weak to speak out.
‘It really doesn’t, and that’s what it is with a lot of men, you’re not weak if you speak out, in fact you’re stronger because you’ve taken the first step of understanding that you’ve got a problem and that you want help with it.
‘They need to speak out, if Grant’s death can save one person from doing something then he didn’t die in vein – that’s the way I look at it.’
Speaking for anyone who has lost a loved one, she says charity Mysterious Minds ‘have been absolutely fantastic since Grant’s passing, they contacted me and helped me with Grant’s funeral funds’.
She added: ‘They do an absolute amazing job and it doesn’t matter what time of night you want to talk there is someone there.’
Friends of Mr Townsend have shared tributes to the rugby fan on social media, with one friend writing: ‘R.I.P Grant! You were an amazing lad and a great friend! Thoughts are with your family.
‘More help is needed for men who suffer with mental illnesses, the stigma of saying men don’t cry or that they need to “man up” needs to stop.’
Another friend wrote: ‘Heart of gold. Came across really well. So so sad I thought a lot of you Grant.’
A past teacher paid tribute to Mr Townsend, sharing: ‘I remember Grant. He was my student at Pickering.
‘Grant was a great student, lovely character. Bright and respectful. So sad reading this. Just so devastating. Thoughts with his family.’
For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details.
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