Shukri Abdi a bright and a promising young girl who first came to the UK in January 2017, was found in the River Irwell in Bury, Greater Manchester in June 2019. A group of children were with her at the river in the period before she died.
She died at the age of 12.
One of her friends who tried to save the life of Shukri Abdi has told an inquest that another child who took her to the river laughed for two minutes while she died.
The children connected with the case can be referred to only as Child 1, Child 2, Child 3, Child 4 and Child 5.
The senior coroner for Manchester North, Joanne Kearsley, commended Child 4 and Child 3, who both tried to save Shukri’s life, for their bravery.
Child 4 told the inquest at Manchester Town Hall via video link that it was a coincidence that they and Child 3 had met up with Shukri, Child 1 and Child 2 in the centre of Bury on the day of Shukri’s death. They had been watching Toy Story 4 at the cinema prior to seeing them.
Child 3 and Child 4 agreed to go to the river with Child 1, Child 2 and Shukri. They said Child 1, Child 2 and Shukri were friendly towards each other en route to the river.
They said that Shukri seemed “not really bothered” about going to the river, and that when Child 1 asked Shukri about her swimming ability, she replied that she was “all right”.
Child 4 said that Child 1 and Shukri went out to where the water was deeper – just below shoulder height for Child 4 – while Child 2 remained paddling in the shallower part of the river.
Child 4 said that Shukri seemed untroubled in the deeper water when she had her arm on Child 1 shoulder, but appeared to get into difficulties when Child 1 let go of her and swam back to the other children.
“Then Shukri’s head went under and came back up. I think she was trying to say something but she couldn’t, trying to call out but she couldn’t,” Child 4 told the court.
Child 4 was asked by the court if Child 1 was laughing when they could see Shukri struggling and sumberging beneath the surface.
Child 4 replied “Yes” and said they presumed it was because they thought Shukri was joking about drowning, but Child 4 said they could see Shukri wasn’t joking. Child 4 jumped in the water to try to save Shukri. Child 3 ran to get a stick to try to pull Shukri out.
Child 1 was laughing for a couple of minutes,” Child 4 told the inquest. “Child 1 was still laughing when me and Child Three were trying to help. Child 1 was still laughing when I jumped in.”
Child 4 said that neither Child 1 nor Child 2 were doing anything while Shukri was drowning, and that Child 1 only stopped laughing when the police came.
After jumping into the water to try to save Shukri, Child Four realised they would not be able to save her, so ran to the nearby Bury police station to alert them. Child Three did the same.
Child Four said that Child Three blamed Child One for the tragedy “because they let go of Shukri”.
The coroner said to Child 4: “You were exceptionally brave; you jumped in the river, not being able to see, you ran to the police station, you jumped a barrier, you did everything you could to save Shukri. You were very, very brave. The family want to thank you for all the efforts you made to save Shukri’s life.”
The coroner told Child 3 that both she and Shukri’s family wanted to also thank Child 3 for their efforts to save Shukri’s life.
“I know it has been a very difficult time. You did try to run up the bank to see where Shukri was. You also ran to the police station. You did everything you could do to try and save Shukri.”
Shukri came to the UK with her mother and four siblings after they fled the 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 in which refugees are vetted by the UN. Only the most vulnerable individuals and families are accepted on to the scheme.
On Monday the inquest heard that after Shukri’s death, Child 1 claimed to have told her: “If you don’t get into the water, I’m going to kill you.”