Man cleared of rape killed himself fearing ‘rapist’ label would ‘never go away’

A 26-year-old man described as a “loveable rogue who always wore a smile” tragically took his own life following a rape trial acquittal.

Grant Townsend, who lived in west Hull, took his own life after struggling to come to terms with a number of incidents since the age of 10, an inquest at Hull Coroner’s Court heard.

He was found by his mother in the house they shared on June 6 last year.

Born in Kent, the court heard how the breakdown of Grant’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 Grant “was bullied for his accent and began hanging around with the wrong crowd”.

Grant’s mother, Keely Gillbey, told the court that Grant “was later accused of rape and was found innocent but believed the title of rapist would never go away.”

Ms Gillbey says she doesn’t think there is enough support for men battling mental illness, and wants Grant’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.”

His mother told the court it was after the false rape accusations that Grant “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”.

She told the court that the pair never discussed the note but that Grant must have known she knew because she had disposed of the tablets found in his room.

The court heard that, after the false allegations were made, Grant met a girl and the two soon entered a relationship after a year of friendship.

“They got a house together but they did have problems”, Keely told the court.

After struggling to find jobs, the strain of the relationship became too much for them.

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 Grant sobbing in the kitchen and knew he was struggling and “crying himself to sleep”.

But Ms Gillbey said that it was prior to that – in 2017 – that Grant’s mental health got “progressively worse” when he was falsely accused of rape.

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.

“To be accused of that affected him big time, it really did. I watched him deteriorate.”

The court also heard how Grant’s past medical history included both depression and anxiety, which he was later prescribed medication for.

Although, Grant failed to pick up his repeat prescription.

It was at 5.30am on June 6 that she came downstairs to find Grant asleep on the sofa before leaving for work.

Ms Gillbey discovered the body of her son on returning home from work, and despite neighbours performing CPR, paramedics confirmed Grant had passed away.

Remembering Grant, Ms Gillbey said: “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.

“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.

“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 Grant’s death was suicide due to hanging, 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.”

Speaking for anyone who has lost a loved one, she says charity Mysterious Minds “have been absolutely fantastic since Grants passing, they contacted me and helped me with Grants 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.”

One friend said: “R.I.P Grant! You were an amazing lad and an 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.”