A bouncer who was injured in a savage ‘happy slap’ attack by an all-girl gang was found dead two years later in what her mum said was a ‘cry for help’, an inquest heard.
Aimee Purdey, 21, from Royton, Oldham, was found dead in a hotel room in Manchester in March last year after she had been on a night out with friends.
The inquest at Manchester Coroner’s Court heard Aimee had been suffering from depression and anxiety and had sent a last text message to her girlfriend saying ‘I’m sorry’.
Her girlfriend called police but by the time officers arrived she was already dead.
At an inquest into her death, a coroner said it was ‘possible Aimee hoped she would be discovered’ but tragically died.
Attacked by gang two years earlier
Two years earlier, Aimee had suffered severe bruising after being lured into a gang assault masterminded by her ex-girlfriend.
In January 2018 Simone McDermott, then aged 18 and from Gorton, brought Aimee to her apartment at 1am on the pretext of needing a shoulder to cry on – only for Aimee to be violently ambushed by McDermott and three of her friends.
The attack on her was filmed on a mobile phone.
Aimee, 18, was shown curled up in a ball as the laughing thugs aimed kicks at her head and body.
In the two minute-long video, one of the attackers is heard shouting ‘give her here – I’ll have a go’.
Another attacker shouts: “I’m gonna break your face.”
Aimee was left with bruising to her head and body and underwent a CT scan in hospital after doctors found a footprint on her forehead. One of her finger nails was so badly damaged in the assault, it fell off her finger.
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McDermott and Melissa Marriott, then aged 18 from Gorton, pleaded guilty to assault with intent to rob.
Siobhan Wait, of Blackley, and Victoria Houghton, from Wythenshawe, both aged 18 at the time, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
At Manchester Crown Court in April 2019, all four were given suspended jail sentences by a judge – sentences Aimee criticised in a later interview with the Manchester Evening News .
At the time Aimee said: ‘”I thought they wanted to kill me – I could have died.
“I had a lot of pain with my injuries and I was unable to leave my room for two to three weeks – when I did go out I had to have someone with me.
“I’ve started getting shopping delivered to my house and I feel unsure going to the shops.
“I don’t think they were sorry for what they did.”
Aimee found in hotel room
The assault wasn’t mentioned at the inquest, although her parents had referenced it in their statements.
The inquest heard Aimee had been suffering from severe mental health difficulties and had previously attempted to take her own life.
She was found dead in her room after booking into the New Union Hotel in Manchester’s Gay Village following a night out with friends.
In a statement Det Chief Insp Mark Astbury, of Greater Manchester Police, said: ”She had been out for the evening in Manchester and a hotel room was booked for the night. She and her friends went back to the hotel 3.50am, where they had something to eat and her friends left at about 5.15am.
”During the course of being in the hotel room, Aimee had been messaging her then-girlfriend, who called police after receiving a message in the early hours saying, ‘I’m sorry’. Officers attended but Aimee was already deceased.
”Aimee had made threats in regard to taking her own life and there had been issues in regard to self-harm, suicidal thoughts and suicide during the previous year.”
Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust said staff had helped Aimee between August 2019 and January 2020.
She was due to see a psychiatrist in June 2020.
Aimee’s father, David Purdey, said: ”At the time of her death, I felt Aimee was getting on with her life and she was loving her job and that she was considering going back to college to do a hairdressing course.
“She seemed happy, and her depression was at bay.”
Her mother, Jennifer Purdey, told the inquest: ”She had had some relationship difficulties around September 2019 and that that caused some considerable distress to her. My opinion is that this was probably a cry for help.”
Assistant coroner Fiona Borrill recorded a narrative verdict.
She said: ”Aimee had been out drinking with her friends over the course of the evening.
Helplines and websites
Samaritans (116 123) samaritans.org operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at firstname.lastname@example.org , write to Freepost RSRB-KKBY-CYJK, PO Box 9090, STIRLING, FK8 2SA and visit www.samaritans.org/branches to find your nearest branch.
For support for people feeling suicidal, if you are concerned about someone or if you are bereaved by suicide see http://shiningalightonsuicide.org.uk
CALM (0800 58 58 58) thecalmzone.net has a helpline is for men who are down or have hit a wall for any reason, who need to talk or find information and support. They’re open 5pm to midnight, 365 days a year.
Childline (0800 1111 ) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won’t show up on your phone bill.
PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.
Beat Eating Disorders: Beat provides helplines for adults and young people offering support and information about eating disorders. These helplines are free to call from all phones. Adult Helpline: 0808 801 0677, Studentline: 0808 801 0811, Youthline: 0808 801 0711. www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk
Anorexia & Bulimia Care: ABC provide on-going care, emotional support and practical guidance for anyone affected by eating disorders, those struggling personally and parents, families and friends. Helpline: 03000 11 12 13. www.anorexiabulimiacare.org.uk/
Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts. Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying studentsagainstdepression.org
For information and links to charities and organisations that can help with substance abuse, visit https://www.supportline.org.uk/problems/drugs/
“She had been distressed by a previous relationship breakdown and she was also very impulsive, and before had made the decision on impulse to overdose in January 2020.
“She had been drinking in the course of the evening but it is difficult to know if that had any effect on what she decided to do.
“She was in a hotel room and was on her own. She had been in contact with her then-girlfriend and said. ‘I’m sorry’ and the hotel room was locked.
“It appears that Aimee was an impulsive person and I believe it is possible she hoped that she was going to be discovered.
“She was a young woman who clearly had a lot to live for and plans for the future. It’s desperately sad her life has ended in this way.”