A child who went swimming with 12-year-old Shukri Abdi stood laughing as the Bury schoolgirl drowned in the River Irwell, an inquest has heard.
The inquest in Manchester heard on Wednesday how Shukri, who couldn’t swim, had been floating on her back in the water with her arm around the shoulder of “Child One” for support.
The body of Shukri, who first came to the UK in January 2017, was found in the River Irwell in Bury in June 2019. A group of children were with her at the river in the period before she died.
The children can only be referred to as Child One, Child Two, Child Three, Child Four for legal reasons.
Giving evidence Child Four, who was sat on the riverbank at the time, was asked “at any point when Shukri was struggling was Child One laughing?” He replied: “Yes.”
Asked what he thought when he saw Child One laughing, he replied: “I thought she thought Shukri was joking, but me and (Child Three) could tell she wasn’t joking because her head kept going under.”
Child Four said Child One continued to laugh even after he jumped into the water to try and save Shukri.
Asked “at what point did Child One stop laughing?,” he replied “When the police came, a couple of minutes later.”
Earlier Child Four said when asked by Child One if she could swim Shukri had replied she was “alright at swimming.”
Asked if anyone said anything “rude,” “unpleasant” or “threatening” to Shukri Child Four replied “no.”
Asked if Shukri was reluctant to go to the river he replied “no.”
He said the three girls seemed to be friends because they were “being nice to each other.”
Child Four told how after seeing Shukri getting into difficulties he jumped into the water to try save her.
He said: “(Child One) and the other girl (Shukri) were swimming near the waterfall. (Child One) swam back over to us, then the other girl starting drifting over to the rocks, then she went under and didn’t come back up. I went in and looked for her but I couldn’t see anything under the water. Me and (Child Three) ran to the police station and I think (Child One) called an ambulance.”
On behalf of Shukri’s family coroner Joanne Kearsley thanked Child Four for his bravery.
She said: “You were an exceptionally brave young man. You did everything you could to try and save Shukri. You were very, very brave and the family want to thank you for all the efforts you made.”
On Tuesday another child, “Child Five.” told the inquest that hours before her death Shukru had been “pushed around” by one of the children who went with her to the river.
They described witnessing Shukri at Broad Oak school in Bury, which Shukri, Child One and Child Two attended, at the end of the school day at 3.20pm. The child said that Shukri was approached in the locker room by Child One and Child Two.
The witness said that the physical approach was from Child One who “started pushing her around” and then told Shukri to get changed.
Following the incident Child Five said in video evidence that another girl in the locker room who witnessed the incident said: “That was a bit nasty.”
Child Five said that the atmosphere in the changing room had been one of laughing and joking until Child One and Child Two came in. Child Five initially said Shukri had been pushed around then said it was “not fully like pushed” but that child one “barged” Shukri and took hold of her shoulders.
Child Five said that Child Two told Shukri that they had been looking everywhere for her and were going to go to her house to look for her.
Child Five added that most of the contact came from Child One and said that Shukri did not respond and was putting things in her bag. “I felt they were being horrible,” said Child Five, before saying that Shukri didn’t respond to the comments from Child One and Child Two and kept looking at the wall.
“I think she was feeling a bit worried, scared, not proper like really scared just a bit because of the way she reacted. Normally she was happy,” said Child Five.
The inquest continues.