The Independent London Newspaper


‘An accident waiting to happen’: support workers warned that 7-year-old autistic girl 'was at risk of balcony fall’

 Nawaal Sayid, 7, who was autistic, fell 11 storeys

Nawaal Sayid: The seven-year-old had an autistic spectrum disorder which impacted on every aspect of her and her family’s everyday life

Published: 5 July, 2013

THE grief-stricken family of the little girl from Finsbury who fell 100ft to her death from a balcony revealed this week that they had repeatedly warned that it was an “accident waiting to happen”.

Nawaal Sayid, 7, who was autistic, fell 11 storeys from her home at Wycliff Court, opposite Islington History Museum, in St John’s Way just after 6.45pm last Tuesday, June 25.

As a full-scale investigation was launched by Islington Council into the death the family revealed how they pleaded to be rehoused at ground level because Nawaal was a very active child with no concept of danger.

The family maintains that the council had received repeated warning from professionals, including occupational therapists, a consultant pediatrician and support workers, that Nawaal was at risk.

One professional wrote in 2010: “It is not a case of if Nawaal falls but when. This family should be given the highest priority in getting a new flat.

"This situation is far too dangerous as an accident will be fatal. A child is being put in extreme danger every minute of every single day that she is at home.”

Nawaal’s  mother, her twin sister and her younger brother described how they have been traumatised by the horrific accident in a statement issued by the family’s solicitor, Rebekah Carrier, of Hopkin Murray Beskine, in Finsbury Park.

The statement said: “However, the family’s grief is compounded by the fact that they believe this was an accident waiting to happen, and could and should have been avoided.”

Nawaal had an autistic spectrum disorder which impacted on every aspect of her and her family’s everyday life, the statement added.

“She was very active and had no understanding of danger,” it said. “Occupational therapy, medical and other assessments recommended an urgent move to suitable ground-floor accommodation to minimise the risk to Nawaal.”  

The family reveals that Nawal’s mother and professionals working with the little girl “repeatedly over the past three years made their safety concerns about the family’s accommodation plain to the local authority”.

The statement said: “Her mother had instructed solicitors to challenge the authority’s failure to arrange an urgent move. The specific risk of fatal injury to Nawaal from a fall from the windows or balcony was known, yet the family remained in this accommodation.”

The family, who are being supported by the charity Inquest, wish to see a full and robust investigation into Nawaal’s death, and an urgent review of how the local authority addresses risks to disabled children living at height.

“They do not want any other family to go through this,” the statement said. They are writing to the coroner, police, the local authority and Islington Safeguarding Children Board.

A council spokesperson said: “An investigation is underway to look into all the circumstances of this tragic death.

 “We can confirm that the mother was on the housing transfer list and that the council had been working with her – and is continuing to work with her – to provide support to the family.”


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