School friend told 12-year-old refugee who drowned in river to ‘get in the water or I’ll kill you’, inquest hears

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A school friend ordered a 12-year-old Somalian refugee to “get in the water or I’ll kill you” before she drowned in a river, an inquest has heard.

Shukri Abdi was found dead in the Irwell near where she lived in Bury on 27 June last year.

The youngster was with four other children before she died, Rochdale Coroner’s Court was told on Monday.

One of the four – none of who can be named for legal reasons – later told a foster carer that she’d threatened the youngster if she didn’t go in the water.

But the child, known only as Child One, said she had been joking.

“On 30 June, we were stood at the bottom of the stairs in my house and she said she had something to tell me. She said that she’d said in a jokey way ‘get in the water or I’ll kill you’.

“They were walking along and she’d said it in a laughing manner because after going all that way she wanted everyone to get in the water.

“Nobody wanted to go in the water and she said she’d save Shukri if she couldn’t swim. She just wanted someone in the water with her.”

She also told coroner Joanne Kearsley that Shukri had been at her house the day of her death.

She said: “They came round in school uniforms, laughing and giggling. I made them pasta, they ate in the garden and we chatted. They were just acting like teenagers.”

It was later they went to the river banks, she added.

In a day of emotional evidence, Shukri’s mother, Zam Zam Ture, also appeared at the hearing.

Speaking through an interpreter, she said the family had arrived in the UK in January 2017 after fleeing conflict in Somalia and that her daughter was a happy and helpful youngster.

When she didn’t return home after school on the day of her death, Ms Ture said, she herself went to the school, a nearby park and to the home of friends to look for her.

A friend told her that they had seen Shukri walking on her own in the direction of her house with two girls following behind.

The youngster’s body was eventually discovered by police that evening. Officers visited the family home at 1am to break the news of Shukri’s death.

Greater Manchester Police has previously said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the child’s death.

An inquiry by the police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct into the way GMP handled the investigation is ongoing.

The inquest continues.

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