'The beginning of a family's new life so cruelly shattered' - investigation into death of five-year-old Sheffield refugee one week on

He fled the terror of war-torn Afghanistan with his family, but tragically died just days later in Sheffield.

By Ellen Beardmore
Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 8:30 am

Five-year-old Mohammed Munib Majeedi, was an Afghan refugee whose family escaped the Taliban and arrived in the UK to seek asylum.

He and his family had been placed at Sheffield’s Metropolitan Hotel by the Home Office as part of a scheme to relocate Afghans who had helped the British embassy or army in Afghanistan. His father was an embassy worker.

Last Wednesday, August 18, at around 2.30pm, police were called to the hotel after reports the boy had fallen from a window reportedly on the ninth floor. That night, they confirmed he had died and an investigation had been launched.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Afghan refugee Mohammed Munib Majeedi, aged five, plunged to his death from a hotel window in Sheffield

Mick Cottingham, who works nearby, said that night: “I’m absolutely shocked to hear what's happened.

"I can’t understand how it could have happened. Hotels have windows that are restricted to stop people opening them up fully. That’s a health and safety feature that you see in hotels. What on earth could it have happened?

"I’m a father myself. I really feel for that poor family.”

A refugee who lives at a hotel next door also spoke of the horrifying scenes after the fall.

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - AUGUST 19: A general view of the OYO Metropolitan Hotel in Blonk Street, Sheffield, where a five year old Afghan refugee boy fell to his death from a window on August 19, 2021 in Sheffield, England. An Afghan boy, 5, has died after falling from a hotel window in Sheffield just five days after fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan as a refugee. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The 36-year-old refugee from Iran, who only wanted to be known as Ali, said he has been staying at the Holiday Inn, just yards away from where the incident took place.

Ali, who has been living in Sheffield for four months, said he witnessed the chaotic scene from his hotel room window.

He said: “I saw the mum. She was crying so much. It was a big family – brother, sister. There were a lot of people. I watched for four to five hours, it was very sad.

“The mum crying, very sad. I don’t know how the boy could have fallen out.”

Teachers and children from Middlewood Nature Nursery send their condolences to Mohammed's family.

Ali also expressed his concern over the hotel windows which, based on his observation, could be opened too widely unlike the ones at his hotel.

“In our hotel, we cannot open them all the way, but there, there are big windows which you can open the window all the way. It’s very dangerous.”

It has emerged that concerns about how far the windows opened had been raised with the venue in the past.

OYO Rooms, the company now behind the Sheffield Metropolitan, has been asked to comment.

Floral tributes have been left at Metropolitan Hotel, Sheffield where a five-year-old boy fell to his death.

The Health and Safety Executive also confirmed to the Telegraph that it had been asked to provide ‘specialist expertise to support this investigation.’

Since the incident, floral tributes with touching messages and stuffed animals have been left near the hotel’s entrance.

Sheffield Council bosses have also pledged to provide any support they can to the family of Mohammed.

Coun Terry Fox, leader of Sheffield Council, said: “This is absolutely devastating, just so incredibly sad.

"As a council we are in close contact with the police and will provide any support that we can to the family – my heart goes out to them."

In the days after the tragedy, police arrested a 42 year old woman was arrested on suspicion of posting malicious comments online following the death. A police spokesman confirmed she has now been released under investigation while enquiries continue.

A message reads: "Mohammed, you will always be in our hearts."

Acting Detective Inspector Lee Corker said: "I would like to remind people that comments made online can have serious consequences. Hate speech or hate crimes will not be tolerated in person or online, and will be dealt with robustly by officers.”

There have been calls for a Home Office investigation into Mohammed’s death from the Refugee Council and Sheffield’s five Labour MPs.

Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “This a terrible tragedy and our thoughts are with the family who have gone through so much trauma and suffering to reach the UK.

“It is vital the Home Office carry out an urgent investigation into what has happened so steps can be taken to quickly learn lessons.

“We don’t know the details of the incident but it is imperative that families who come from Afghanistan are given all the support they need and housed in appropriate accommodation. They are vulnerable and often very traumatised.”

Yesterday, Emma Haddad, director general of asylum and protection at the Home Office, said her team of "dedicated civil servants" were "heartbroken" and "will feel guilt and responsibility for this tragic death forever".

Writing for the national Telegraph newspaper, she said: "The beginning of one family's new life in the UK was so cruelly shattered and left in pieces. We are all heartbroken. We have all been in tears."

More than £4,000 has also been raised for the family of Mohammed through a JustGiving appeal online.

Anyone with information that could assist police enquiries is asked to call South Yorkshire Police on 101.

Details can also be reported via the force’s new online portal. The incident number is 489 of August 18.

An inquest into Mohammed’s death is due to open today, Wednesday August 25.