Lincolnshire

The 'misguided' woman cleared of assisting friend's suicide

Emma Crossman and Amelia Caller Image copyright Selfie from Amelia Caller's Facebook
Image caption Emma Crossman (left) and Amelia Caller, known as Milly, had been friends for five or six years

A woman has been cleared of assisting or encouraging the suicide of her best friend in "an act of misguided loyalty". What was her involvement in the death, and why was she prosecuted?

"I just keep thinking what kind of mate murders their best mate," wrote Amelia Caller in a message to her best friend Emma Crossman.

Miss Crossman had repeatedly told Miss Caller she wanted to die, and had asked her to be there for support when she killed herself.

One evening they sat together making plans for the weekend and ordering alcohol off the internet.

Two days later Miss Caller found her friend dead, having killed herself using gas that was ordered as part of the online shop.

I just keep thinking what kind of mate murders their best mate...

Facebook message from Amelia Caller to Emma Crossman
Thinkstock

The alcohol and gas were delivered to Miss Crossman's home in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, but Caller had paid for them and her iPad was used to place the order.

The Crown Prosecution Service believed there was "sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction", and that a prosecution was in the public interest.

But following a trial lasting over a week, a jury has now cleared the 22-year-old of assisting or encouraging her friend's suicide.

When interviewed by police, Miss Caller maintained she did not believe her friend would go through with threats to kill herself.

It was also clear she deeply regretted buying the gas.

"I shouldn't have let her order it, I should have cancelled it," she said when interviewed by police after finding her friend's body.

"I should have stopped it and I wish I had but I know if I had done she would have got some another way, but at least then there would have been more time [to stop her]."

Image copyright Newsteam / SWNS
Image caption Emma Crossman had been upset after splitting up with her boyfriend, Andrew Kemp

The prosecution said Miss Caller supplied her friend with the gas in "an act of misguided loyalty".

The women had been friends for five or six years, Miss Caller told police, and best friends for two or three years.

Both were the same age - 21 at the time of Miss Crossman's death on 15 January 2014 - and lived near each other in Lincolnshire.

"Her whole life revolved around talking to Emma and being with her," according to a summary of their relationship in the police interview.

Image copyright From Amelia Caller's Facebook page
Image caption Amelia Caller (left) and Emma Crossman were the same age and both lived in Lincolnshire

When the friends were not together physically they messaged each other on Facebook, or spoke on the phone and via Skype.

"We spent nearly 24/7 talking to each other apart from when we was asleep," Miss Caller told police.

Witnesses told the court that both women had been bullied when they were at school, and they saw each other as their only real female friends.

But Fiona Caller claimed Miss Crossman knew how to "manipulate" her sister and how to "get things from her", like money and presents.

Miss Caller was "more like a child than a 21-year-old", her sister said.

Image caption Amelia Caller, of Heckington Road, Great Hale, stood trial at Lincoln Crown Court

Another sister, Emma Caller, said the defendant could not make simple decisions on her own, such as what to have for dinner.

A psychologist giving evidence for the defence described Miss Caller as "childlike", "dependant" and having a personality disorder.

People with personality disorders can have difficulty maintaining stable and close relationships, and sometimes have distorted beliefs that can lead to odd behaviour.

The evidence from the psychologist caused the defence to ask for the case to be thrown out, but the judge rejected the submission, saying it was ultimately down to the jury to decide whether or not Miss Caller was guilty.

I'm losing my best mate. I do understand why you are doing it and I do stand by you but it still hurts. I am sorry.

Facebook message from Amelia Caller to Emma Crossman
Thinkstock

Miss Caller did not have a boyfriend, while Miss Crossman had been in a relationship for two years with a man over twice her age.

They started going out in November 2011 and split up in December 2013 - the month before Miss Crossman died.

The court heard Miss Crossman had a history of self-harming and depression, and she reacted particularly badly to the breakdown of the relationship.

Her ex Andrew Kemp, now 56, said he received about 100 text messages from her every day, including texts in which she threatened to kill herself.

However, he did not take her threats seriously.

"I think it was more of a cry for attention than to physically, really try to do herself harm," Mr Kemp said.

"I also saw it as a test to see if I would come to rescue her."

Miss Crossman texted her ex on the night of her death, telling him what she was doing to herself.

One text said: "I'll try again. I'll try not to stop this time. I'm sorry if I end up brain damaged but I already am. I'm so sorry."

Still, he did not believe she would go through with it.

Miss Crossman's mother, Sharon Parr, also did not believe her daughter would take her own life.

She described how her daughter took an overdose of painkillers in June 2013, but she thought this was a cry for attention.

"Not in a million years did Emma want to die," she told jurors.

This was Miss Caller's defence throughout the trial - she did not believe Miss Crossman would carry out her threats to kill herself, even when they were ordering the gas online.

"I understood that she wanted to take her own life but I didn't think she would," Miss Caller told the jury.

Image copyright From Amelia Caller's Facebook page
Image caption Amelia Caller (left) said she did not believe her friend Emma Crossman would kill herself

Miss Caller's mother, Carol Thompson, told the court that her daughter became "very depressed" after her best friend's death.

On top of that, she has had to go through the ordeal of standing trial.

She no longer has to worry about going to prison, but she still has to cope with the loss of the best friend she was so devoted to.

"I never intentionally tried to help her [kill herself]," she told the jury.

"I never wanted her dead and I never thought she would do it."

Samaritans provides emotional support, 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or thoughts of suicide. Its number is 08457 90 90 90.

Rethink Mental Illness has more than 200 mental health services and 150 support groups across England. Its number is 0300 5000 927.

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