Inquest says 12-year-old Shukri's death in River Irwell was 'accidental'

The drowning of a 12-year-old Somalian girl in a river was an accidental death, a coroner has concluded.

The body of Shukri Abdi was recovered by underwater search teams from the River Irwell in Bury, Greater Manchester, on June 27 last year.

On Friday, Joanne Kearsley, senior coroner for Manchester North, said Shukri entered the water with a 13-year-old girl and did so "following some encouragement".

Shukri Abdi Credit: ITV Granada Reports

The other child was aware Shukri could not swim and was reliant on her to stay afloat, she said.

Both went to an area of the water which was deeper and at some point the other child tried to swim underwater, the coroner continued.

Ms Kearsley said: "At this point, on the balance of probabilities, a combination of deep water, together with Shukri panicking and the other child struggling to swim, meant that she probably pushed Shukri off.

"Shukri went under the water and drowned."

The scene of Shurki's death alongside the River Irwell Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Both Shukri and the other child, referred to as Child 1, had joined other youngsters in visiting the river on the warm, sunny evening.

Lawyers for Shukri's family submitted the coroner should consider a verdict of unlawful killing from either an act of murder or gross negligence manslaughter.

The inquest heard evidence that while walking to the river, Child 1 had said to Shukri: "You'd better get in the water or I am going to kill you," but it was said in a laughing and joking manner.

The coroner found the remark was not made with any malice or intent, but "very much in the context of a child who was keen to go swimming in the water and did not want to be the only one in the water".

The River Irwell in Bury, where Shukri died Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Ms Kearsley went on: "The fact is, there is absolutely no evidence before the court that Child 1 had any intention to kill Shukri.

"At its very highest, the comment made by Child 1 which has been described as a "threat to kill" is in my judgment, in the context spoken, a phrase used by an exuberant child in the company of her peers.

"To even suggest this case reaches anywhere near the standard required for a court to consider the most serious of offences was misplaced and most unhelpful."

The coroner did find that Child 1 had breached her duty of care to Shukri, in that a child of similar age and background should have recognised the risk of death to someone who needed her to stay afloat.

However her actions fell far short of a flagrant breach in which her actions could amount to gross negligence manslaughter, she added.

After the hearing, Shukri's mother said she had not been given justice for her daughter. The family said they would now seek a judicial review of the coroner's conclusion.

A report by the police watchdog the IOPC concluded Greater Manchester Police said there was insufficient evidence to suggest officers had failed to conduct a proper investigation or that Shukri's family were treated any less favourably becuse of their Somali background.

However, Ms Rowe added that her office had spoken to the Senior Investigating Officer about ''raising his voice'' while talking to Shukri's family, and that she had offered to meet with them.

'' I know that nothing we can do or say will bring Shukri back, but I hope that our work provides the clarity and facts they had rightly sought.”