Teenager plunges 18 floors to her death as police raid Woolwich flat


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The Independent Online

An 18-year-old woman plunged 18 floors to her death today in an apparent bid to escape police.

Scotland Yard faces an inquiry from the police watchdog after it emerged she fell when officers arrived at the flat she was staying in to make an arrest.

Neighbours described how the "friendly" teenager's death was witnessed by children on the estate. Witnesses also said a row could be heard from the flat before she fell.

The mixed-race woman plunged from the 17th floor as officers arrested a man, understood to be her boyfriend, on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Police had arrived at her address in Mulgrave Road at 9.30am "to carry out an arrest inquiry" relating to a prison recall.

The incident has been referred to both the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and the force's Directorate of Professional Standards.

Neighbour Prince Langlais, 42, criticised police for the time it took to cover the woman's body from the public in Woolwich, south-east London.

"There were kids running around watching the body," he said. "The police could have done their job a bit quicker and better than that.

"There were young kids out there running up and saying 'look at the body and all the blood'."

He described the incident as a "tragedy", adding: "They were very friendly people."

Carpenter Michael Mulkerrins, 28, who lives two floors directly below the flat, said his partner heard a row from inside the flat a few minutes before the incident.

"He heard an argument, he heard shouting and bawling," Mr Mulkerrins said. "About 10 minutes later she was out of the window.

"He didn't see the girl but he did see her on the floor."

Another neighbour said the man was in his late teens or early 20s and had been living at the flat for about six months. He said the woman was his girlfriend and regularly stayed there.

A police spokesman said: "Shortly after the officers entered the flat, a woman, who is believed to be 18, fell from a bedroom window on the 17th floor.

"She was pronounced dead at the scene. We await formal identification. A post-mortem examination will be scheduled in due course.

"A man was arrested by officers on suspicion of assisting an offender and is currently in custody at a south London police station."

Police covered the body with a white and yellow tent on an area of grass next to the tower block.

Forensic officers were continuing to examine the scene tonight and police were patrolling the entrance to the building.

On the 17th floor, two officers were standing guard outside flat 66, where forensic teams were examining the home.

A representative from the IPCC was also present at the scene.