Child described threatening to kill 12-year-old refugee who drowned, inquest told

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A child who was at a river with a 12-year-old Somali refugee shortly before she drowned described telling the girl: “If you don’t get into the water I’m going to kill you,” an inquest heard on Monday.

The body of Shukri Abdi, who first came to the UK in January 2017, was found in the River Irwell in Bury, Lancashire, in June 2019. A group of children was with her at the river in the period before she died.

Shukri’s mother, Zamzam Arab Ture, had earlier told the inquest that her daughter was scared of water and had never swum before moving to the UK.

The children connected with the case can be referred to only as child one, child two, child three, child four and child five. The foster carer of child one told an inquest in Heywood, Lancashire, that the child had recounted threatening to kill Shukri if she did not get into the water as they walked towards the river along with child two.

The carer said she had known the child for six weeks at the time of the conversation.

The carer said she kept daily logs about child one and had passed this information on to her social worker, who had asked her to pass it onto the police.

The foster carer said that child one had brought child two and Shukri home for dinner and that all three children had then changed out of their school uniforms and gone out. She said that the three were laughing and joking together at her home.

Ture said that Shukri’s teachers at Broad Oak high school in Bury described her as “helpful and happy” but also told her that there had been incidents where Shukri had been subjected to stone throwing and writing on her bag.

A teacher at the school told the court that child one, child two and Shukri had been together earlier on the day that Shukri died.

Ture initially said her daughter had previously been in a fight with child one but then said the fight had been with child two.

She added that her daughter usually came home from school between 3.15pm and 3.45pm, depending on whether or not she had an after-school activity such as athletics or cooking. When she was not home by 3.45pm, Ture began to look for her. She said that although Shukri had a mobile phone she had left it at home that day.

Ture returned to school but did not find her there so after feeding her younger children and taking them to the local mosque, where the children attended after-school lessons, she looked for Shukri at a friend’s and then at a relative’s.

“I was running around at that time, I didn’t know what to do,” Ture told senior coroner for Manchester North, Joanne Kearsley.

Ture said Shukri had refused an opportunity to go swimming the previous year on an outing and could not swim. “She was scared of the water,” she told the court. Ture said she had never been in the water or visited a river before in the UK.

The court was told by Shukri’s family’s solicitor, Attiq Malik, that she, child one and child two had been caught shoplifting in Primark earlier that day.

Shukri came to the UK in with her mother and four siblings after they fled conflict in Somalia. Shukri was born and brought up in a refugee camp in Kenya. She and her family were brought to the UK as part of the vulnerable persons resettlement scheme where refugees are vetted by the UN. Only the most vulnerable individuals and families are accepted on to the scheme after vetting.

Ture told the court police came to the family home at 1am to break the news of Shukri’s death. The case continues