A MOTHER whose late daughter was allegedly raped in accommodation sourced by social services has called for police checks on where vulnerable young people are placed.
Lisa Arthurs told Sunday Life her beloved child Gabrielle Connolly was subjected to a serious sexual assault in October last year.
But the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust were content for the then 17-year-old to be placed back in the same accommodation where the attack happened.
"Gabrielle was a fun-loving, kind-hearted young girl, I was going through a bit of a rough time with her younger brother Thomas and the house was in a bit of an uproar," explained Belfast woman Lisa.
"But Gabrielle passed five GCSEs and she was going on to do A-Levels and she asked me could she take a break.
"She then worked two jobs and had a boyfriend, but her relationship with the boyfriend broke down.
"Gabrielle's behaviour got worse and she left the house at 17. I asked social services for help and she moved in a hostel.
"She was then placed into a B&B where she was raped and this is an ongoing investigation. Gabrielle was never the same after that."
Gabrielle, an ex-pupil at Trinity College in Belfast, was assessed at The Rowan sexual assault referral centre, but was due to be placed back in the same accommodation where she was attacked.
Lisa sought the help of lawyer Ciaran Mooney, of Hunt Solicitors, who took a judicial review challenging the decision at the High Court.
The action was withdrawn after several weeks when the trust found alternative living arrangements, with Gabrielle living at home in the meantime.
A spokesperson for Belfast Trust said: "We appreciate this is a difficult time for Ms Connolly (Arthurs) and we are very sorry to hear of Gabrielle's passing.
"Unfortunately we cannot comment on this individual case which is currently subject to a police investigation."
Mr Mooney said: "The Trust did confirm that they don't carry out and access police checks on where vulnerable people live, but if you are to work in the Trust you need those checks, so why are they not carrying those out when they are placing young vulnerable adults?"
Lisa continued: "Her mental health got worse and she was running about the streets in the city centre, engaging with older males. She then spent three months in secure accommodation and then she came and I begged her to stay in the house where I could keep her safe."
A friend came to my door to tell me a girl's body had been found at a house on a street in Belfast
Gabrielle was then placed in another series of hostels and B&Bs in Londonderry, Maghera, Portstewart, Belfast and other locations around Northern Ireland.
On the Sunday before she was found dead at a house in west Belfast on July 10, Gabrielle came home again and was in "great form", according to Lisa.
"I dyed her hair and she got a breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast then I dropped her back sometime in the afternoon," explained Lisa.
"The next time I heard from her was she asked a woman outside the Rock Bar to use her phone saying she had to ring the hostel as she was staying out."
Gabrielle was then sighted four times in Belfast city centre and again in the west of the city and a police appeal for her whereabouts was issued.
"At around lunchtime on Friday, July 10, a friend came to my door to tell me a girl's body had been found at a house on a street in Belfast," said Lisa.
The police investigation into her death is ongoing.
Lisa said: "She was beautiful, she had sparkling white teeth, she took care of herself and she wanted to do things with her life.
"You think where the Trust is placing the child is safe and it turns out it was not.
"It's the next kid that's going to get hurt and if I can do anything to help them I will."