UPDATE (November 27): A child, who was with 12-year-old Somali refugee Shukri Abdi the day she drowned in a river in Bury (June 27, 2019), has told an inquest at Rochdale coroner's court that she accidentally pushed Shukri into deeper water shortly before she drowned.
For legal reasons, the children connected with the case can only be referred to as Child One, Child Two, Child Three and Child Four.
Other children who witnessed the incident gave their evidence via video link at the inquest hearing in February. However, Child One, who said she pushed Shukri, gave her evidence via a witness statement read out by Joanne Kearsley, the senior coroner for Manchester North, who is presiding over the hearing. A video of a police interview with Child One was also played in court.
In the evidence, Child One said of Shukri: "She was holding my legs at the back. I pushed her, I accidentally pushed her to the deep end. I couldn't swim like that, I pushed her.
"She thought she could swim but didn't know how to swim. She got into the water next to me. She was grabbing my hand. Something happened, she went down in the water to get back up, she didn't make it. We were calling to Shukri to get up. She didn't get up. We were all crying and shouting. She's like really small. We were panicking. We were like: no, this cannot happen."
A statement from Gillian Fenton, a paramedic with North West ambulance service who attended the scene after a 999 call was made, said that when she saw the four children on the riverbank, "No one appeared to be crying or in any state of distress."
Fenton added that no one appeared to be wet and she wondered if anyone had made any attempt to rescue Shukri.
DI Andrew Naismith, of Greater Manchester police, told the court on Wednesday: "There was nothing either of a criminal nature or anything untoward that happened to Shukri when she entered the water."
The inquest continues.
Original story below:
On June 27, 2019, the body of 12-year-old Shukri Abdi was found in the River Irwell in Bury, Greater Manchester.
Shukri, a Somalian refugee who came to the UK with her family in 2017, went to a river with a group of kids and ended up in the water, subsequently drowning from not being able to swim. A witness at the scene has now told an inquest that another child who took Shukri to the river laughed for two minutes before she died.
After Shukri's death, Greater Manchester Police ruled out any suspicious circumstances surrounding the drowning and described the event as a "tragic incident". The inquest heard statements from the four classmates involved, suggesting that the incident was not the 'tragic accident' that the police described it as.
Before the outing to the river, Shukri was described as "a bit worried, scared" and two of the children were named "horrible" and "a bit nasty". The inquest also heard that the classmates involved had a long history of using racist slurs like "coloured" and "half-caste".
Alarms were raised on several occasions that Shukri was being bullied by classmates. In addition to the bullying that she experienced — at the school they all attended, Bury Oak Sports College, a teacher committed suicide in 2015 after claiming she had been subjected to "strategic bullying" by fellow members of staff.
The kids connected to Shukri's case have received anonymity from the press and are referred to as Child One, Child Two, Child Three, Child Four and Child Five. The senior coroner for Manchester North, Joanne Kearsley, commended Child Three and Child Four, who both attempted to save Shukri's life.
The Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, recently told the BBC Asian Network he has received around 6,000 emails about the case. "Clearly it's unresolved [be]cause of the nature of the level of concern," he said during an appearance on the Big Debate. "So what I can say... I will look into the case again and I will consider the call for a further investigation into it."
The 'Justice For Shukri Abdi' petition page has close to 600,000 signatures, one of them being British film star John Boyega.
"She was a sweet, innocent child," says Shukri's uncle, Mustaf Omar. "Her mum is absolutely destroyed. Everything is out of character for her. She couldn't swim so she wouldn't even go near the edge."
You can sign a petition for an investigation to be launched into the culture of bullying at Bury Oak Sports College here, sign a petition that calls for police justice here, and to donate money to the Abdi family, head here.