Bournemouth beach deaths: Girl, 12, and boy, 17, drowned after suggested riptide, inquest hears

  • The opening day of the inquest into the deaths of two children in Bournemouth beach found they died due to drowning, ITV Meridian reporter Chlöe Oliver reports

A teenage boy and a 12-year-old girl died of drowning following "speculation" they got caught in a riptide off Bournemouth beach, an inquest has heard.

Joe Abbess, 17, and Sunnah Khan, 12 died in hospital after being pulled from the water on Wednesday 31 May.

The inquests into the deaths of Sunnah, from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, and Joe, from Southampton in Hampshire, were formally opened and adjourned by the Bournemouth coroner today.

The inquest heard initial post mortem examinations revealed the provisional cause of death for both of them was drowning.

Nicola Muller, the coroner's assistant, confirmed reports of a sudden riptide in the sea at the time of the tragedy.

She said in relation to Joe: "Emergency services were contacted by members of the public following reports that swimmers had come into difficulty in the water following the suggestion they had been caught in a riptide.

"He was transferred to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital and despite ongoing treatment he was confirmed dead at the hospital.

"Joe was formally identified by DC Hannah Webster via a photo from family.

"A post mortem was conducted on the 2nd June by Dr (Basil) Purdue. He confirmed a provisional cause of death as 1a drowning. Samples were retained for further examination."

Ms Muller said that the body of Sunnah was identified by her father.

She said: "She was a school child at the time of her death. The brief circumstances surrounding her death are that emergency services were contacted by members of the public following reports that swimmers had come into difficulty in the water following suggestions they had been caught in a riptide.

"She was treated by paramedics at the scene and transferred to Poole General Hospital. She was confirmed deceased at the hospital.

"She was identified by her father Mr Khan. A post mortem was carried out by Dr Purdue who gave a provisional cause of death as 1a drowning."

Rachael Griffin, the Dorset coroner, said the inquest proceedings were restricted while there was an ongoing police investigation.

She said: "In respect of the deaths of Joe and Sunnah there is an ongoing police investigation. I have already completed the appropriate paperwork and released Joe and Sunnah for the purposes of their funerals.

"In relation to that ongoing investigation I am unable to make any progress. It is very important that people do not speculate on the circumstances concerning Joe and Sunnah's deaths and allow the police investigation to proceed."

She added: "My thoughts are very much with them (the families) at this difficult time following this tragedy. My thoughts are with those who attended or witnessed the traumatic events."

The inquests were adjourned until September 18.

Dorset Police are investigating the weather, wind conditions and state of the water at the time of the tragedy.

They said that the pleasure boat that was in the area at the time was just one of several lines of inquiry they were exploring.

Detective Chief Superintendent Neil Corrigan said: "We continue to keep an open mind around the circumstances that have led to the tragic death of two young people in the water off the beach.

"Our thoughts remain with the families of those young people.

"As with any investigation of this nature, we have to look at all factors connected to the state of the water.

"One of those lines of enquiry has involved the pleasure boat, which was in the area at the time of the incident.

"These enquiries also include examining wind, other weather and general coastal conditions at the time.

"I would ask that the police investigation is allowed to continue without further unhelpful speculation around circumstances of the incident, and that there is respect for the families of those who have died so tragically."

A man aged in his 40s previously arrested on suspicion of manslaughter has been released under police investigation.

More follows.