THE health service failed a woman who hanged herself after being raped, her brother has told an inquest.

Sheelah Richardson, 26, who had battled drugs and depression for many years, died in Romsey.

Her brother Kevin Richardson told an inquest in Winchester that they had visited doctors a few days before her death to seek help but nothing she was offered was suitable.

She was referred to a Southampton drug rehab centre called The Bridge but he said she did not want to go because some people there knew her and the man who had raped her, Alan Phillips, of Orchard Lane, Southampton. He was 40 at the time of the rape and was jailed for eight years in May 2011.

She could not afford the other option of private treatment, the inquest heard, and she did not want to go into a secure unit.

Mr Richardson, 27, a hotel duty manager, said: “I believe Sheelah was failed by the health service seeing as we went to a doctor prior to her death and I know that she felt let down.”

He added: “I believe that she was depressed and she should have been treated differently for this depression.”

Mum Sarah told the inquest that Sheelah was diagnosed with depression aged 14 and that unbeknown to the family her daughter had started using drugs at around the same time.

She said she had seemed to “give up” after the rape and had grown weak, only eating one meal per day.

She said: “Sheelah thought she could help herself and the more I tried to get her to go and see people to get help the more she seemed wary of them.”

The inquest heard she went to live in Bristol after the rape three years ago. However, she moved back into the family home at Earls Road in Bevois Valley, Southampton, shortly before last Christmas.

On January 9 she went to stay with a friend, Nicholas Standen, in Romsey with the aim of keeping away from drugs.

Mr Standen told the inquest he found her dead the next morning, having hanged herself in her room.

A post-mortem showed traces of heroin, cocaine, painkillers, antidepressants and alcohol in her system.

Pathologist Adnan Al-Badri said none of the levels were fatal and hanging was the cause of death.

Central Hampshire coroner Grahame Short recorded a verdict that Miss Richardson took her own life.

Speaking after the hearing Mr Richardson paid tribute to his sister, describing her as very bright, outgoing and caring.

“I told her she was going to go on to to do great things. But she couldn’t see though a black cloud on the horizon,” he said.

An NHS spokeswoman said last night: “This is a difficult time for Sheelah’s family and we extend our sympathies to them for their loss.

“We’re unable to discuss an individual’s care for reasons of patient confidentiality. Many people with drug and mental health problems can lead somewhat chaotic lives, and can find it difficult to engage with the systems in place that can provide assistance.

“If the family has concerns about the care that Sheelah received by the NHS, we would encourage them to contact us and we will be happy investigate the matter.”