Bibby Stockholm: Albanian asylum seeker died from ‘compression of the neck’
An Albanian asylum seeker died of compression of the neck caused by suspension by ligature aboard the Bibby Stockholm barge, an inquest into his death has heard.
Leonard Farruku was found unresponsive aboard the accommodation vessel at Portland Port in Dorset on December 12, the hearing to open the inquest into his death was told.
Coroner Rachael Griffin said there were not thought to be any suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of the 27-year-old.
She told the Bournemouth hearing: “At the time of his death, Mr Farruku was residing on the Bibby Stockholm at Portland Port in Dorset.
“He was a single gentleman and he was unemployed at the time of his death.
“He died on the 12th December 2023 on the Bibby Stockholm.
“Police and paramedics had been called to reports of an unresponsive male. The gentleman was confirmed deceased at the scene.”
The inquest was told that Mr Farruku’s body was formally identified by his cousin Maranglen Farruku at the Holly Tree Lodge mortuary in Bournemouth.
Coroner’s officer Nikki Muller said: “He is being supported by officers of Dorset Police.”
She added that a post-mortem examination was carried out by Dr Russell Delaney who gave a cause of death as “compression of the neck” caused by “suspension by ligature”.
Ms Griffin said: “There is no evidence of third-party involvement or suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.”
The coroner said that she would be requesting statements for the full inquest from Mr Farruku’s family, the Home Office, Portland Port Authority, security providers Isca, Landry and King which operates the Bibby Stockholm as well as Dorset Council.
Ms Griffin adjourned the hearing until a pre-inquest review to be held on July 9.
No family members were present at the short hearing.
Home Secretary James Cleverly previously said that Mr Farruku’s sudden death would be “fully” investigated.
The Daily Telegraph, which first reported the deceased’s name, has stated he paid 4,000 euros to cross the English Channel in a small boat to arrive in the country.
His sister Jola Dushku, 33, who lives in Lombardy in Italy, told the newspaper: “When I spoke with him last time, he told me that the conditions in that boat were not bad but they were treated by the guards like animals.
“According to our relatives who are in touch with the police, Leonard that night at 11pm in the evening had some problems and was calmed down by the security guard.
“At 3am he was found dead. We do not have more details about how he died.”
Home Office permanent secretary Sir Matthew Rycroft last week revealed in a letter to MPs that the cost of the Bibby Stockholm contract was £22,450,772.
He stated that this covered the “vessel accommodation services” portion of the contract with operators CTM.
He said the assessment of whether the vessel offered value for money was “currently being updated”.
The barge – the first to be used as part of UK Government efforts to cut the cost of asylum accommodation – has capacity to house up to 500 single men in around 200 bedrooms.
Asylum seekers were first moved on board in August but evacuated days later after the discovery of Legionella, the bacteria which can cause the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease, in the water supply.
Migrants were taken back to the barge some two months later and Home Office interim second permanent secretary Simon Ridley told MPs in November that there were around 200 people on board.
The plan has attracted considerable opposition, prompting legal challenges and protests, with campaigners branding it cruel and inhumane.
News of the death drew criticism from charities who called for an independent review and an end to the use of such facilities for asylum accommodation, and criticised the conditions on board.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.