London

Arsema Dawit inquest: Police criticised over stab murder

Arsema Dawit Image copyright PA
Image caption Arsema Dawit was stabbed in the neck, back and chest

Police have been criticised for failing a teenager who was stabbed more than 60 times by her jealous and controlling ex-boyfriend.

Arsema Dawit, 15, was stabbed 60 times by Thomas Nugusse in Waterloo, central London, in 2008.

The jury criticised failings by the Metropolitan Police, saying the investigation was "insufficient" and not carried out in a "timely manner".

The Met Police said its "sympathies remained with her family".

Arsema's mother said she felt "vindicated" after the inquest.

Her family had claimed fears over Nugusse, 22, were ignored by police.

The jury at Southwark Coroner's Court delivered a unanimous verdict of unlawful killing.

'Tragic event'

Nugusse confessed to Arsema's murder but could not be tried because he suffered brain damage in a suicide attempt in prison.

In a statement outside the court, read by her solicitor Manal Fouad, Arsema's mother Tsehaynesh Medihani said: "I have waited six long years for other people to find out the truth about the circumstances surrounding my daughter's tragic death.

"This case is not simply about a brutal and unforgivable murder, but why, despite me begging the police to save my daughter, the police failed to act.

"The jury, by their conclusions, have vindicated me and what I have been saying from the very beginning."

Met Police Cdr Simon Bray said: "Arsema's murder was a tragic event and our condolences and sympathies remain, as always, with her family."

"We carried out our own reviews into the circumstances surrounding the murder.

"Work continues with an ongoing programme looking at the issues raised by this and other domestic abuse cases to ensure learning opportunities are identified and acted upon."

'Controlling and jealous'

Returning its verdict, the jury spokeswoman said: "The principal offence was recorded as [actual bodily harm] and the investigation followed this line on inquiry.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ms Dawit's mother Tsehaynesh Medhani said police ignored her

"Had the principal offence been recorded and verified as a threat to kill, a risk assessment would have been carried out, which would have recognised and prioritised the threat to kill as urgent.

"The subsequent police investigation of ABH was inadequate to a threat to kill."

The judgement follows a lengthy legal battle by Arsema's family to get justice for her.

In 2012, they won the right to have a full inquest heard, two years after an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found "collective and organisational failings" in the police's handling of the case.

Arsema and Nugusse, who were both originally from Eritrea, had met through their local church choir.

Nugusse, who was 21 at the time, was repeatedly described during the inquest as "controlling" and "jealous".

Arsema's body was found covered in blood by neighbours in a lift in flats at Matheson Lang Gardens.

The family are suing the Met over the case.

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