The coroner in the Shukri Abdi inquest has said she will need one week to reflect on all the evidence before delivering a verdict on Friday December 4.
At Rochdale Coroners Court today Joanne Kearsley said the case was a complicated one so she would need time, but was also conscious of the need to come to a conclusion for the sake of the family and other interested parties.
Lawyers for the family of Shukri, who drowned in the River Irwell in Bury in June 2019, are seeking a verdict of “unlawful killing” or “gross negligence manslaughter” against “Child One,” who was with Shukri in the water when she drowned but cannot be named for legal reasons.
But the barrister representing Child One told the court today that the police investigation had been through and “no stone had been left unturned” despite rumours to the contrary.
“There is no evidence whatsoever of any criminality or wrongdoing whatsoever,” she said. “Therefore there is simply no evidence to return a verdict of unlawful killing. This is a straightforward case as far as the evidence is concerned.”
The barrister also urged the coroner to consider the evidence in its entirety and dispassionately, and to disregard social media “rumours” which had had a very negative impact on her client.
Lawyers for Child One added that the child had no duty of care to Shukri because they were just friends and Child One had no training to save her in a life-threatening situation in the water.
On the other hand, in his submission to the coroner Ashley Underwood QC, representing Shukri’s family, argued that Child One had a duty of care to Shukri. That was because Child One knew Shukri couldn’t swim and Child One told her she would be looked after when they went in the river.
Yesterday the court heard Child One telling police they had “pushed” Shukri after she grabbed Child One’s legs as they swam in the River Irwell, saying “I had to save myself.”
Child One described how they entered the water together, initially holding hands.
“She was holding me, she was pulling my legs, I pushed her. That’s why I feel it was all my fault. I couldn’t swim like that. I could only swim if she let go. I pushed her and she went sideways. She just went down the deep end. She went in the water then just disappeared. If I hadn’t let go of her we both would have gone in the deep part and we both would have drowned. I had to save myself.”
Child One then swam back to the riverbank, according to the police statement. After getting out of the water Child One initially thought Shukri was messing about and started laughing along with another child. But then when they realised Shukri was in danger they stopped and called 999.
Child One added: “None of us knew this was going to happen. We were going to go and have fun. I cannot believe it happened. I was in shock. She was one of our best, best friends. I promise you I am not sure how it happened. This is the worst thing that’s happened. I was crying last night when I found out she had died.”
Yesterday the inquest also heard a statement from Jillian Fentem, a paramedic who was one of the first emergency services personnel on the scene.
She said she initially thought the call could have been a hoax because of the “calm nature” of the children. “No-one appeared to be crying or in a state of distress,” she said.
Previously the inquest had heard allegations that before they went swimming Shukri had been “pushed around” by Child One and Child Two. The inquest had also heard that as they walked to the river Child One had joked she would “kill” Shukri if she didn’t get in the water.