Police dismiss fears serial killer on the loose in Bristol after spate of drownings

Avon and Somerset Police say a recent spate of drownings were 'tragic accidents'

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The Independent Online

Police have rejected social media speculation that a serial killer is on the loose in Bristol, saying the deaths of three men in the harbour were “tragic accidents”. 

The body of Abdulkadir Mahamoud, 29, was found floating in Bristol Harbour on Friday nearly a month after he was reported missing.

Mr Mahamoud’s body is one of several which have been recovered from the river over the past few weeks leading to speculation on social media that someone is deliberately pushing them in.

Deakon Wilkins, 24, from Weston-super-Mare in Somerset went missing after leaving the Motion nightclub in the early hours of 14 January and 26-year-old Lewis Ball disappeared after leaving the Thekla nightclub on 5 February. 

Mr Wilkins’ body was recovered by police divers on 5 February and Mr Ball’s was found on 27 February.

Avon and Somerset Police have passed the investigation into their deaths to the coroner and are not treating them as suspicious.

Police have not released details about whether they consider Mr Mahamoud’s death suspicious as formal identification of his body is yet to take place. 

But the spate of deaths has prompted speculation from Bristol residents who fear a serial killer could be pushing young men into the river.

Commenting on the Bristol Post’s Facebook page, several users suggested there was a “Bristol pusher”.

One user, Joe Henderson says: “Police and the media are avoiding the obvious – becoming very clear that Bristol has a serial killer on the loose.”

Another, Bianca Symone Liliana Anoushka, said: “This is strange. Been saying it for months now. Noticed as they are all men and not women. 

“Perhaps there’s a pusher? Perhaps robbing drunk men after nights out and pushing them in the river? Who knows?”

Many likened the deaths to that of the so-called “Manchester pusher” – a theory which began on social media that there is a serial killer in the city after 85 bodies were recovered from canals and rivers between 2008 and 2016.

Greater Manchester Police have repeatedly said there is no evidence to suggest this person exists or that any of the deaths are connected and the number of deaths is roughly in line with other cities of a similar size.

Some Facebook users rejected the speculation on the Bristol cases saying police could not comment without any evidence of foul play.

Others urged people to think of the men’s families when posting speculation about their deaths.

In a statement, Avon and Somerset Police said: “There is nothing to suggest that any of the deaths are linked or suspicious. They appear to have been tragic accidents.

“We are always willing to receive new information and intelligence, which is not based on speculation.

“We are continuing to work with the coroner on the incidents which are being treated as non-suspicious sudden deaths.”

Water safety charity, the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS UK), issued a warning to young people to be more wary of water in light of the deaths in Bristol.

It said it had already targeted the city as an area of concern as there are many waterfront nightclubs dotted along the harbour.

The charity announced it would soon be holding several water safety advice stalls at nightclubs in the near future.