Call for postmortem after asylum seeker’s death at car wash

By May Bulman | Independent UK |

A Sudanese man who died after falling through a factory roof during an immigration raid in Wales was a helpful and respectful young asylum seeker, according to those who knew him.

Mustafa Dawood with relatives. Photograph: Handout
Mustafa Dawood with relatives. Photograph: Handout

Friends of Mustafa Dawood told The Independent they were “heartbroken” and said the 23-year-old’s “needless” death was caused because he was running in fear from the immigration officials.

Mr Dawood had been working at a car wash in Newport on 30 June when Home Office immigration officers in an unmarked vehicle reportedly arrived and started to chase employees.

It is understood that he climbed onto the roof of a nearby factory during the incident, before falling through the structure. He was transferred by ambulance to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, but died shortly after arrival.

The incident has since been referred to the Independent Office for Police Complaints (IOPC) for further investigation.

Sarah Croft, project manager at the Sanctuary in Newport, which supports migrant communities, told The Independent: “We had only known Mustafa for six months, but he made a lasting impression on us. He was just the nicest, nicest young man.

“So helpful, so respectful, always positive. He integrated with all cultures and was willing to help anyone. He is very sorely missed at the moment. Nobody had a bad word to say about him. He was very much part of our community. We’re heartbroken.”

Ms Croft said Mr Dawood had been waiting for a decision from the Home Office on his asylum claim, and raised questions as to why he was pursued by immigration officials when he appeared to be a victim of exploitation.

“I know he should have been working there, but sadly the delays with the Home Office lead people to make these wrong choices. The immigration raids are so heavy handed. He ran in fear, which led to his death,” she said.

“My main concern is he was a victim of exploitation. These car washes don’t pay people properly. The next day the car wash was still open. What was gained? All that was gained was a man’s death.”

Mr Dawood is thought to have come to the UK in 2015 and had been living in the Southampton area until moving to Newport relatively recently.

His relatives, some of whom live in the UK, have been informed of his death.

“This was a tragic and shocking incident and my thoughts go out to the man’s family and everyone else affected,” said Jonathan Green, IOPC regional director responsible for Home Office matters.

“We have a remit to investigate in certain circumstances where a death or serious injury occurs to a member of the public in the course of immigration enforcement staff carrying out their duties.

“We would like to assure everyone concerned by this incident that we have begun a thorough, independent investigation into exactly what happened on Saturday morning, and the planning of the operation.”