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Family demands 'justice' over death of community leader after 'disturbance' on housing estate

Tuesday January 31, 2023

By Thomas George

"We just want justice. It does not matter how long it takes."

Kunil Nur (Image: Imran Khan and Partners)

The family of a man who died days after he was injured in a 'disturbance' on a housing estate have demanded 'justice' over his death.

Kunil Nur died in hospital six days after the incident outside his home in Linney Square, Wigan, in October 2021.

The 44-year-old's family believe he suffered a serious head wound following a 'physical altercation' with some people living nearby.

They claim he had made numerous reports regarding allegations of racial abuse and harassment in the months prior to his death but that his 'cries for help' were ignored by Greater Manchester Police and Wigan Council.

Detectives launched a murder investigation following the death of Kunil - who moved to the UK about 17 years ago after fleeing war-torn Somalia - yet, more than a year on, his loved ones say they are still awaiting answers.

No one has been charged in connection with Kunil's death, although a police investigation remains ongoing.

Earlier this month, friends and family gathered at the SWAP Project - a refugee support organisation where Kunil was a volunteer - to demand 'justice' over the death of the beloved son, father and friend.

Speaking to those gathered, Kunil's father Mohamed Ali said he was still 'in pain' over the tragic loss of his son.

"I did not think my son would die before me," said an emotional Mr Ali, who travelled from London to attend the memorial event.

"At night, I wake up every 30 minutes. I don't sleep. Every time I sleep, he appears in front of me."

Kunil Nur’s father, Mohamed Ali (Image: Kenny Brown | Manchester Evening News)

Prior to the reports he made before his death, Kunil's family say he had 'no previous history with the police'. However, they claim the alleged racist abuse he was subjected to was so severe that he often slept at a friend’s house.

They say he had also applied to be moved to another property - something Wigan Council has previously denied.

GMP confirmed that Kunil had reported incidents on June 25, September 28 and October 2. The first was a report of a group of children shouting racial abuse in the street - which was recorded as a crime. The second and third reports were incidents of alleged racial abuse.

Shortly after midnight on October 4, police were called to a disturbance in Linney Square. Officers say they had received a report of 'Mr Nur breaking into a property'.

Residents living near to the scene reported hearing 'screaming and shouting' coming from a flat. Kunil's family has claimed that when officers arrived, 'he was trying to clot the bleeding from a wound to his head'.

He was arrested on suspicion of assault and criminal damage, but GMP said he was not taken into custody as he required hospital treatment.

Kunil Nur died six days after a 'disturbance' outside his home in Linney Square, Wigan (Image: SWAP)

He was later discharged but Kunil's family say they learned that he was in a mental health facility 'despite his clear physical injury and having no history of mental health issues'.

Following Kunil's death on October 10, two men and a woman were arrested on suspicion of murder. They were later bailed pending further enquiries.

The police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), has confirmed it is investigating the case and the previous contact Kunil had with officers.

Kunil's loved ones now face an anxious wait for the outcome of both GMP and the IOPC's investigations.

After family lawyers provided an update on developments, friends and family took turns to pay tribute to Kunil, who established himself as a pillar of the community following his arrival in Wigan. Mick Taylor, manager at SWAP, described him as a 'larger than life character' and spoke of his shock over his friend's death.

He told of how Kunil would help fellow refugees set up bank accounts and often helped with interpretation. He said Kunil regularly visited schools around Wigan to share his life experiences and raise awareness of issues affecting asylum seekers and refugees.

Kunil Nur’s family and friends gathered in Wigan to call for answers over his death (Image: Kenny Brown | Manchester Evening News)

Paying tribute, Mr Taylor added: "He had a big smile, always smiling and always willing to help. He loved his food and we would often cook together.

"Kunil had been in Wigan a long time and was a key part of SWAP's role in helping the migrant refugee community here. He was such a great guy and is sadly missed."

Mahamud Bashir, Kunil's cousin, described him as 'special' and called on anyone with information about his death to contact police.

"We believe there are people out there who know what happened," he said. "We ask them to come forward if they know any little thing that may help.

"We just want justice. It does not matter how long it takes, it will come."

Others told the meeting that they felt unsafe after hearing what had happened to Kunil. One woman said: "Justice for Kunil means justice for all of us. We all live in Wigan and we want our children to grow up in a safe community."

Linney Square in Wigan (Image: Manchester Evening News)

An IOPC spokesperson said: ‘’Our thoughts remain with Kunil Nur’s family, loved ones and all those affected by his tragic death.

“We received a complaint referral from Greater Manchester Police on 10 November 2021 due to the prior contact officers had with Mr Nur before his death.

“Our investigation was suspended to avoid prejudicing the force’s criminal investigation and resumed in March 2022.

“Since then, IOPC investigators have reviewed a significant amount of material including relevant 999 calls, CCTV footage, crime reports and local and national policing policies and procedures.

“In October 2022, we received additional information from the force relating to its prior contact with Mr Nur and are investigating these incidents before finalising our investigation.

“We continue to provide regular updates to Mr Nur’s family.”

A Wigan Council spokesperson said: “We continue to offer our deepest sympathies to Kunil Nur’s family for their loss.

“The Greater Manchester Police investigation into this tragic case is still ongoing, which council officers have been assisting in; as such we are not able to comment further at this time.

“Wigan Council takes hate related abuse in all forms very seriously, and all reported incidents are escalated to relevant agencies.”


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