IMMIGRATION officers who raided a car wash and chased an asylum seeker before he fell through a roof contributed to his death, an inquest jury has found.

Mustafa Dawood suffered fatal head injuries after falling through the plastic roofing of Shaftesbury hand car wash in Newport

The 23-year-old had fled persecution in his home country of Sudan but had his asylum claim refused by the Home Office, the inquest heard.

When officers carried out an enforcement visit on the morning of June 30 2018, Mr Dawood mistakenly thought he would be arrested and fled, climbing on to pallets and through a metal door before accessing the roof.

It took the jury under three hours to decide the actions of officers during and after the pursuit was called off contributed to Mr Dawood’s death.

Addressing Newport Coroner’s Court, the jury foreperson said: “During the pursuit, Mustafa started to climb and it was determined the pursuit should be abandoned.

“Nonetheless officers remained relatively close and did not withdraw to a distance away from him. We consider that maintaining the proximity could have contributed to Mustafa’s death.

“We consider the decision to abandon the pursuit was not effectively communicated to all officers and that this could have been a contributory factor to Mustafa’s death.

“The decision for an officer to keep his baton in a racked position could have possibly contributed to Mustafa’s death.”

They added: “The officers were not appropriately trained in pursuit procedures and this could have contributed to Mustafa’s death.”

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Coroner Caroline Saunders said that while the Home Office had made changes in the wake of Mr Dawood’s death, she would be writing a recommendation for improvements to be made in the training of officers in pursuit procedures.

Turning to Mr Dawood’s mother, Hameda Hamed Shogar Ahmed, who has been present in court throughout the inquest, Ms Saunders said: “No one in court this week can have been unmoved by the problems Mustafa faced in Sudan and the events of the 30 June 2018.

“You’ve shown such courage in coming to the UK and attending a foreign court where you’ve had to relive these events.

“If I may say, on a personal note, I’ve been humbled by the patient, gracious way you’ve sat through this inquest.

“Please accept my sincere condolences,” she added.

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During the five-day inquest Ms Ahmed described how her son had found himself in increasing danger and decided to leave, fleeing to the UK in 2015.

She said: “(In Sudan) there is so much killing every day, so many young people are killed or disappeared – that’s why our young men have to flee to avoid the same destiny.

“My son was not a thief or a murderer, he was just a young person asking for safety.”

The inquest heard uniformed immigration officers had turned up, in a marked van, at the Shaftesbury hand car wash, in Albany Road, on the morning of June 30, 2018, following intelligence reports there were foreign nationals working there illegally.

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Mr Dawood ran when an officer asked to see his boss, and members of the immigration team pursued the Sudanese national into a nearby warehouse.

Then, the officer in charge said he abandoned the pursuit when Mr Dawood started climbing shelving. According to protocol, all officers should immediately stop the pursuit and stand aside, if the order is given. But in this case, the inquest heard that the other immigration officers did not recall hearing the command.

Mr Dawood squeezed his way through a locked metal door, where he found an officer who was holding a baton. That officer said he did not hear any instructions to abandon the pursuit, the inquest was told.

Now on the roof of the warehouse, Mr Dawood presented "a real dilemma" for officers, who on the one hand should have retreated, but on the other hand couldn't leave until his safety could be guaranteed, the coroner said.

They searched for him for 20 to 30 minutes, eventually finding a hole in the roof that led into a locked area. Once they gained access, they found Mr Dawood unconscious on the floor, with a head injury and no pulse.

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They gave CPR and Mr Dawood was taken to hospital in Cardiff, where a scan revealed his injury was unsurvivable. He died that afternoon.

During the proceedings, the inquest heard testimony from Mr Dawood's mother and his friend, who said the 23-year-old had feared for his life in Sudan and left for his own safety.

In their narrative conclusion, the jury found the officers had remained "relatively close" and not withdrawn from Mr Dawood after the order to end the pursuit had been given. This proximity could possibly have contributed to his death.

They also concluded the call to abandon the pursuit was not communicated effectively to officers. Again, this could possibly have contributed to Mr Dawood's death, as could the decision of one officer to keep his baton in a 'racked' position at his shoulder.

Officers had also not had appropriate practical training on the pursuit procedure, the jury said, and this could possibly have contributed to Mr Dawood's death.

Ms Saunders said she had heard evidence of some policy changes made after Mr Dawood died, but given the jury's conclusions, she would be making formal recommendations for further changes around the provision of practical pursuit training for immigration officers.

Additional reporting by Bronwen Weatherby, PA

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