Canal death of boy (11) "accidental", coroner rules

By Dave Doyle | 08/09/2017

Canal death of boy (11) 'accidental', coroner rules

A CORONER has ruled the drowning of an 11-year-old boy in a canal last summer “accidental”.

The Doncaster Coroner Nichola Mundy reached her conclusion on Thursday afternoon, after hearing three days of evidence at Doncaster Coroner’s Court.

Subhaan Ali, of Eldon Road, Eastwood, died in the Earl of Fitzwilliam Canal behind Parkgate Shopping on July 21 last year.

Police interviewed more than 60 people to establish how the schoolboy entered the water.

Two said they saw the Subhaan (pictured) being pushed — but most said he jumped in of his own accord.

The inquest was opened in January, but Ms Mundy adjourned it because of concerns over differing witness accounts.

The coroner reached her conclusions after hearing more evidence from police and witnesses over two days.

Ms Mundy said those two who believed Subhaan was pushed were “not reliable”.

One witness, a teenage girl who cannot be named, told the court that she saw Subhaan from a bridge as he was shoved backwards into the canal.

But she had told police in January that Subhaan had been kneeling by the water when he was pushed in forwards, the inquest heard.

Ms Mundy said: “She seemed mildly amused, as if this was not very important, so I find her to be an unreliable witness.”

She added: “What strikes me is that all of the boys (questioned) said Subhaan went in of his own accord.

“I am particularly mindful of (his best friend, a boy who cannot be named), who said he removed his clothes and went in and that they were all surprised that he had.”

Ms Mundy said she had considered whether witnesses colluded before their police interviews.

But she noted that detectives had spoken to most of the boys within hours of Subhaan’s death and some very early the following day.

The inquest was also halted after Subhaan’s mum, Zaura Ali, expressed fears that her son had been bullied.

Ms Mundy said: “There was the question of bullying and whether that had played any part.

“From what I have heard, the evidence says there was some bullying in the past and I accept that.

“But that is different to whether it played any part in how Subhaan came to be in the canal.”

She added: “There may have been some verbal exchanges, but I think they were quite low level.”

Ms Mundy also referred to witness Barry Reddish, who was cycling nearby that day.

He told police that he had heard no shouting or coercion by any of the boys — and that he saw one boy lower himself into the water.

“In light of all that evidence,” said Ms Mundy, “I do think Subhaan went in the canal of his own volition and was not pushed.”

Ms Mundy reached a conclusion of accidental death, adding that the cause of death was drowning.

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