A coroner has ruled that the drowning of Bury schoolgirl Shukri Abdi in 2019 was an “accidental death.”
In a ruling this morning, Coroner Joanne Kearsley found that another girl who was with her in the River Irwell when she drowned (who we can only identify as “Child One”) had no intention to harm her.
Kearsley said that she hoped Shukri’s family would now focus on the “happy memories of a beautiful young girl.”
During her verdict at Rochdale Coroners Court, the coroner quoted Shukri’s teacher who described her as a “joy in class” and as a “smiling, happy child without a nasty streak.”
Describing in detail the events of the day she died, Kearsley said that Shukri would have gone to an athletics lesson after school and then straight home had she not been subject to peer pressure to go to a waterpark by two girls known as Child One and Child Two.
The three girls first went to Primark in Bury where all three were involved in a shoplifting incident which Kearsley described as “out of character for Shukri.” At this point Shukri appeared content but after leaving Primark she said she wanted to go home because she had a religious exam and was worried about what her mum would say.
But after persuading her to stay, the children took Shukri to the house of Child One where they had some food. Shukri then seemed happy to go swimming with the other children.
Whilst approaching the river the coroner found that Child One had threatened to kill Shukri if she didn’t get into the water but that this was said in a joking way and without malice. There was no animosity between the pair at all, according to Kearsley.
However, the coroner did find that Child One had breached her duty of care towards Shukri by leading her into deep water despite the fact that she knew she couldn’t swim. Child One also promised to take care of Shukri in the deep water.
Whilst in deep water Shukri was latching onto Child One who then attempted to swim underwater which resulted in the pair becoming parted. As they got into difficulty in the water the coroner found that Child One probably pushed Shukri away before she swam back to the riverbank.
However, the coroner said that Shukri had been a willing participant in the swimming and that there was no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Child One had pushed Shukri into the water from the rocks.
The coroner also found that Child One had laughed when she reached the bank while Shurki was drowning but this was not malicious. Rather it was childish and without an appreciation of the true nature of events, the coroner said.
Joanne Kearsley concluded that Child One had no intention of killing Shukri but she did prompt the crisis which ultimately led to her death. She said Child One was naive and it was ill-considered to try to teach Shukri to swim. It was a serious error of judgement but she did not mean to cause her harm.