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Coroner halts inquest into boy's canal death for 'further clarification'

A coroner has halted an inquest into the death of an 11-year-old boy who drowned in a canal, saying she wanted to know why police decided there were no suspicious circumstances.

The mother of Subhaan Ali told the hearing in Doncaster she believes her son was pushed into the waterway near their home in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, in July last year.

Zaura Ali said she believed Subhaan had been bullied by a group of children in the area, and that he would not have jumped into the canal as he was scared of water and could hardly swim.

Doncaster Coroner's Court heard statements from two children who were with Subhaan when he died, who both said he jumped in of his own accord. But each had differing account of the events leading up to this.

Rotherham coroner Nicola Mundy said these witness accounts had "sufficient inconsistencies" that they appeared to require further investigation, and she questioned two detectives in court about why the boys had not been probed in more detail.

Detective Constables Simon Taylor and Victoria Kenny both said it was because the youngsters were treated as witnesses rather than suspects, as senior officers had already deemed the death not to be suspicious.

Det Con Kenny said there was nothing but rumours that there had been "any kind of foul play or anything like that".

Ms Mundy told the court she was adjourning the case so South Yorkshire Police could provide her with more clarification about this decision.

She said: "I would like some further clarification provided to me about why this was deemed to be non-suspicious at an early stage."

The coroner acknowledged Mrs Ali's concerns about previous bullying of her son and how he had got into the water.

She said that, if necessary, she would call the children who were with Subhaan as live witnesses when the inquest is eventually resumed.

But the coroner warned the family that her actions on Wednesday might not change anything about the evidence she is considering.

Statements made by two boys who were with Subhaan when he died were read to the court by Det Con Taylor.

One of the youngsters said: "He ran right fast, jumped high and landed in the middle of the canal."

Det Con Taylor told the court: "(The boy) reiterated that no-one had pushed Subhaan into the water."

Both the boys described how another boy in the group went into the water before Subhaan.

One said this boy lowered himself into the canal after Subhaan said: "One of you jump in and I'll jump in."

But the other young witness said in his statement that this other boy was pushed by another boy in the group.

Witness Barry Reddish told the court how he was fixing a puncture near the canal when he noticed the group of children.

He said he saw Subhaan in the water at one point, and then get out.

Mr Reddish said he then noticed Subhaan in the water a second time, further along the canal, and this is when he got into difficulty.

He said he was shouting "I can't swim, I can't swim", and went under the water.

Mr Reddish said two other boys had been in the water but they had gone to the side. He said the other boys in the group were just watching Subhaan from the bank.

Earlier, Mrs Ali told the court she believed her son had been bullied by a group of children in the area and she warned him to stay away from them.

She also said Subhaan could not swim well - only ever staying in the shallow end at the swimming pool - and was scared of water.

In a statement read to the court, Mrs Ali said: "My son's death has devastated my life, which is over."

She said: "I believe he must have been pushed," adding: "I will never accept he went into the water on his own."

The inquest was adjourned until a date to be fixed.

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