Murdered girl's mother blames failure of police

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The Independent Online

The grief-stricken mother of the schoolgirl Arsema Dawit has issued a devastating attack on police, blaming them for failing to protect her child.

For days after her 15-year-old daughter was killed in a frenzied knife attack, Tsehainesh Medhani could do little more than sob, surrounded by close friends and family. But yesterday she emerged to express her anguish and disappointment in the system she had believed would safeguard her quiet, charming teenage daughter.

Clinging to her family and weeping hard, Mrs Medhani stood by as her solicitor read a prepared statement. "I am absolutely devastated and cannot believe what has happened to my daughter," said the lawyer Daksheenie Abeyewardene.

"I came to this country from Eritrea to live in safety. When my daughter was threatened, I went to the police seeking protection. Sadly, this did not happen."

Arsema had been on her way home from school, Harris Academy in Bermondsey, on Monday when she was stabbed up to 10 times. She was found by a mother and her nine-year-old daughter slumped in a lift in the block of flats where she lived in south London, wounded so badly that paramedics were unable to save her.

As they came to terms with the death, friends and family revealed that weeks earlier they had complained to the police of an obsessive man who had stalked the teenager.

Yesterday her mother appeared outside the family home near Waterloo station. With her niece Mili Isak holding her steady, the mother's statement recalled a "delightful" young girl.

"I have lost a precious, beautiful and much-loved daughter who was kind, generous and loving. I hope no other family has to go through the anguish that we are going through. I feel as though a light has gone out of my life."

As the small group turned back into the block of flats, Arsema's aunt cried out in grief and collapsed next to floral tributes.

Scotland Yard confirmed that Arsema and her family had gone to Kennington police station on 30 April, complaining that she had been assaulted by a man who had threatened to kill her.

A spokesman said Southwark CID had investigated the matter, sent a schools officer to speak to Arsema – who had denied any knowledge of the incident – and contacted her mother. The investigation was still underway when she was killed.

The Metropolitan Police said two internal reviews were under way into how the force handled the case and officers had voluntarily referred the incident to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Thomas Nugusse, 21, appeared at Camberwell Green magistrates' court, in south London yesterday, charged with Arsema's murder. Mr Nugusse, a student from Ilford, Essex, spoke only to confirm his name, address and date of birth. He was remanded in custody to appear at the Old Bailey on 21 August.