Death of 12-year-old girl which family claimed was inadequately investigated due to racism was a accidental drowning, inquest rules

Victoria Ward
·2-min read
Shukri Yahya Abdi who died after entering the River Irwell near Bury - MEN MEDIA
Shukri Yahya Abdi who died after entering the River Irwell near Bury - MEN MEDIA

A 12-year-old girl drowned in a river accidentally, a coroner has ruled, after her family accused the police of inadequately investigating due to racism. 

Shukri Abdi was recovered by underwater search teams from the River Irwell in Bury, Greater Manchester, on June 27 last year.

She had entered the water with a child and did so "following some encouragement,” Joanne Kearsley, senior coroner for Manchester North, said.

The other child was aware that Shukri could not swim and was reliant on her to stay afloat.

Both went to a deeper area in the water and at some point the other child tried to swim underwater.

Ms Kearsley said: "At this point, on the balance of probabilities, a combination of deep water, together with Shukri panicking and the other child struggling to swim, meant that she probably pushed Shukri off.

"Shukri went under the water and drowned."

Lawyers for Shukri's family asked the coroner to consider a verdict of unlawful killing from either an act of murder or gross negligence manslaughter.

The inquest heard evidence that while walking to the river, the other child, referred to as Child 1, had said to Shukri: "You'd better get in the water or I am going to kill you," but it was said in a laughing and joking manner.

The coroner found the remark was not made with any malice or intent. 

Ms Kearsley did find that Child 1 had breached her duty of care to Shukri, in that a child of similar age and background should have recognised the risk of death to someone who needed her to stay afloat.

However her actions fell far short of a flagrant breach in which her actions could amount to gross negligence manslaughter, she added.

Shukri, the daughter of mother ZamZam Ture and father Yahye Abdi, was born in a refugee camp in Kenya and came to live in Bury aged 10 with her mother and siblings.

Greater Manchester Police had insisted her death was an “incredibly tragic incident” with no suspicious circumstances.

But Shukri's relatives questioned the investigation. The Independent Office for Police Conduct examined an allegation that officers “prematurely concluded” that her death was not suspicious and that her family were treated less favourably because of their ethnic background.

It concluded that the investigation was carried out in line with national and local policies and guidelines and that there was no evidence to indicate the family was treated less favourably because of their ethnic background.

Following her conclusion, Ms Kearsley said she sincerely hoped that instead of focusing all their thoughts on how Shukri died, that her parents could now focus on the "happy memories of Shukri who was a beautiful young girl".