Isle of Wight Coroner concludes over Rosie Johnson death

A PGL Little Canada employee found hanged in woodland near Havenstreet took her own life, the Isle of Wight Coroner concluded today (Thursday).

Rosie Rebecca Johnson, from the village of Strachan, in Aberdeenshire, was pronounced dead on June 28, 2019.

The 22-year-old was reported missing four days earlier, on June 24, after she did not turn up for work.

A large-scale search was carried out, based predominantly around the Wootton Bridge area.

Rosie’s body was found in woodland between Briddlesford and Havenstreet.

Isle of Wight County Press: Rosie Johnson.

A fellow PGL employee was leading children on a hike when they spotted what they thought were clothes in a bush.

Friend, co-worker and roommate Ariane Massey said Ms Johnson had gone missing once before, during a night out in Ryde.

She was found the following morning, near Quarry Road and had been tired, upset and crying.

Her friends suspected her drink had been spiked and Ms Johnson’s boyfriend, Brendan Storer, told the inquest he had found her sat on a towel with scratches on her legs.

The matter was reported to police but Mr Storer said they were “not interested.”

Ms Massey said a stranger had made a comment, on the same night, about Ms Johnson ‘punching’.

The person had meant she was not good enough for her boyfriend and the inquest heard similar comments had been made by several colleagues.

While the comments were clearly born out of jealousy, this was believed to have been playing on her mind, the Isle of Wight Coroner said.

Speaking via video link, Ariane Massey said Ms Johnson’s behaviour had not been a cause for concern the night before she was reported missing, but said Rosie had been worried about a meeting at work.

Ms Johnson had gone for a “Prosecco brunch” at a pub with colleagues, before returning to the PGL site, where the group carried on drinking.

Isle of Wight County Press:

There was ‘serious conversation’ between Rosie Johnson and her boyfriend about how to handle an impending mediation meeting and she later messaged him to say they were ‘done’, said Ms Massey.

The zoology graduate then told her friend she was going out for a walk to “clear her head”, but she never returned.

Mr Storer told the inquest that Ms Johnson was funny, energetic, and bubbly – glowing, inside and out.

He said she had some insecurities, but nothing that was out of the ordinary.

The inquest heard the field study instructor, based at Little Canada in Wootton, had been worried about a meeting arranged after a complaint of bullying was made against her.

Caroline Rose, HR representative at Little Canada, said those who knew Rosie Johnson had nothing but good things to say about her, with the exception of one colleague.

She told the inquest that the bullying claims were unsubstantiated and that claims had also been made against other colleagues.

A meeting had been arranged to clear the air between the two parties, but Ms Johnson had not been obliged to attend.

Mr Storer, a PGL team leader, said he had also attended a mediation meeting with the same colleague to “clear the air” over a previous misunderstanding.

He said: “I had nothing to hide. Rosie had nothing to hide.

“Rosie felt she was going to lose her pride by going to that meeting.

“When she had a drink it really bugged her, it played with her head.

“PGL was jumping through hoops. They wanted to make it clear they were doing all the right things for a person in their workplace.”

Ariane Massey said Ms Johnson had expressed concerns about the impending meeting and it had led to an argument with her boyfriend.

Ms Rose said she had had no concerns for Ms Johnson’s mental health – something a family statement echoed.

Isle of Wight Coroner Caroline Sumeray, described Rosie Johnson as a young lady on the cusp of life – someone talented and popular, with a bright future.

“She was beautiful,” said Ms Sumeray, “and I say this because someone played on her insecurities one night, and it was clear this shook her confidence.”

Ms Sumeray said any suggestion that Brendan Storer was someone who did not care for Rosie Johnson, as some media reports had suggested after her disappearance, was far from the truth.

She said it was clear that Ms Johnson had been distressed at the prospect of the mediation meeting, perhaps because it could be perceived as a failure to manage a friendship, rightly or wrongly.

It was concluded that Ms Johnson had killed herself.

Closing the case, Ms Sumeray said: “I’m satisfied Rosie did get into a very sad place that night and did something utterly, utterly tragic.”

Ms Johnson’s mother Julie said the family was “devastated.”

She described her daughter as active, energetic, social, bright and cheerful.

“She loved animals and the outdoors inspired her,” she said.

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