Disabled refugee murdered by his neighbour 'pleaded with council to rehouse him'

Bijan Ebrahimi's repeated calls for help from council were reportedly 'ignored' before he was murdered by neighbour Lee James in 2013

May Bulman
Tuesday 11 July 2017 14:45 BST
Bijan Ebrahimi, 44, was murdered in Bristol in July 2013 by his neighbour Lee James, who wrongly believed the Iranian national was a paedophile
Bijan Ebrahimi, 44, was murdered in Bristol in July 2013 by his neighbour Lee James, who wrongly believed the Iranian national was a paedophile

A disabled refugee who was beaten to death and set on fire by his neighbour repeatedly pleaded with the council to rehouse him, according to reports.

Bijan Ebrahimi, 44, was murdered in Bristol in July 2013 by his drunken neighbour Lee James, who wrongly believed the Iranian national to be a paedophile.

Reports have now emerged that Mr Ebrahimi, who had problems with his mobility, had asked Bristol City Council on a weekly and sometimes daily basis to find him a new home.

Mr Ebrahimi, a council house tenant, suffered constant abuse at the hands of his neighbours. He had already been moved from another part of the area, but the abuse continued at his final home in Capgrave Crescent, where he was killed by James.

One neighbour who supported Mr Ebrahimi told the BBC his repeated calls for help from the council were "ignored".

The woman, who declined to be named, said he faced "death threats, his cat was abused and he had faeces left on his doorstep", adding: "No action was ever taken against those residents.”

She said she felt scared living in this part of Brislington where she was also affected by racism, with her daughter once threatened with a baseball bat.

Mr Ebrahimi's family, who said the delay "could be seen by some as a cover-up", are considering taking a civil prosecution against the council.

The family’s solicitor, Tony Murphy of Bhatt Murphy, said in a statement on behalf of the family: "Bijan was failed for years by Bristol City Council. No action was taken by the Council to protect him from sustained race hatred from other tenants at Capgrave Crescent.

"The only action the Council took was against Bijan, when it colluded with false counter-allegations made by his persecutors. We are calling on the Mayor to sit down with our family in order to do justice for Bijan and to protect other victims.”

Bristol City Council said they are unable to comment on all the detail of the case until an independently authored Multi-Agency Learning Review commissioned by the local ocmmunity safety partnership into the case is published.

But responding to subsequent allegations of anti-social behaviour and/or hate crime in the area, a Bristol City Council spokesperson said: “Any complaints of anti-social behaviour or hate-crime are taken seriously and our teams have had involvement in a number of allegations in this area.

"We would encourage anybody who has been unsatisfied to get in touch with us and follow up their concerns, in particular because one case was closed after several attempts to reach the complainant were not responded to.

“Several changes were made to our practice following the tragic case of Mr Ebrahimi, and we will be commenting in more detail once an independent Multi-Agency Learning Review, commissioned by the Safer Bristol Partnership, is published in the next couple of months.”

It comes as the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) last week criticised the “poor responses” of the police and suggested the officers involved had displayed signs of racism.

The report into the case found that between 2007 and his murder, Mr Ebrahimi made 85 calls to Avon and Somerset Police to report a range of crimes, including racial abuse, criminal damage and death threats.

He had his home and car set on fire and had the word “pervert” daubed on his front door. Yet on 40 separate occasions, police officers failed to record the crimes.

Investigators found a “frequent and persistent failure" of officers to record the crimes being committed against him, despite his "polite and ultimately futile persistence” in requesting their help.

There was also a “consistent systematic failure” by call handlers, who breached standards on recording crimes, identifying hate offences and repeat victims, according to the report.

Responding to the report, a Bristol City Council spokesperson said: “This was an awful, tragic case and we would like to re-express our sympathies to Bijan Ebrahimi’s family. We will carefully consider the IPCC report and respond to any issues it raises that directly impact the council."

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