Asylum seeker’s death at hotel near Heathrow sparks police inquiry
Home Office sources say place where body of 24-year-old from Sudan found at Crowne Plaza is crime scene
Police are investigating after a young Sudanese asylum seeker was found dead in the early hours of Sunday in a hotel near Heathrow airport.
The man, understood to be 24 years old and to have been in the UK for four months after spending several months sleeping under a bridge in Calais, was found dead just before 1am on Sunday at the Crowne Plaza hotel near Heathrow which the Home Office uses to accommodate asylum seekers.
Home Office sources told the Guardian the place where the asylum seeker’s body was found is a crime scene.
Fellow asylum seekers at the hotel staged a protest there hours after his body was discovered, holding signs saying “refugee lives matter” and “he is neglected to death”.
Clare Moseley, founder of the charity Care4Calais, said: “He was friends with our volunteers in both Calais and the UK. He was cheerful and jokey under the most difficult circumstances. Having survived unknown horrors in his home country and a gruelling journey to get here in search of safety we are devastated that his life was cut short here in the UK.”
Maddie Harris, founder of Humans for Rights Network, said: “We stand in solidarity with this man’s family and call for an immediate and transparent investigation into his death.”
Another demonstration has been organised outside the hotel on Monday at 2pm to raise concerns about the death.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are truly saddened to hear of the death of an individual in asylum accommodation. The health and wellbeing of asylum seekers will always be our priority. We are working closely with a range of organisations to ensure immediate support and assistance is provided to people living in the accommodation who have been affected by this tragic death and await further information from the Metropolitan police as to the findings of their ongoing investigation.”
A Metropolitan police spokesperson said: “Shortly before 1am on Sunday, 18 July police were notified by the London ambulance service about reports of a person deceased at an address on Stockley Road, West Drayton. Officers and paramedics attended and a man in his 20s was pronounced dead at the scene. The man’s death is not being treated as suspicious and steps are being taken to inform his next of kin.”
Twenty-nine asylum seekers died in Home Office accommodation last year, five times as many as those who lost their lives on perilous Channel small boat crossings over the same period.