Tragedy as 'loveable' child refugee smuggled into UK dies after battle with alcoholism


Alex Tekle, an 18-year-old from Eritrea had dreams of becoming a cyclist once having arrived in the UK the court heard, however, his dream died one year after entering Britain. His time in the UK was marred with incidents according to the coroner’s report witnessed by multiple media outlets.

While in a hostel, he was assaulted and stabbed in a seemingly random attack in the street, the inquest heard.

The inquest heard Alex saw women and children die as they trekked across the desert from Eritrea and lived in a tent in Calais’ Jungle camp for around a year.

When the camp was cleared Alex, then 17, was rejected by the Home Office to come to the UK legally.

He was found dead at his home in Mitcham, south London, in December 2017, less than a year after smuggling himself into the country in the back of a lorry.

Speaking of his journey, his girlfriend, Luul Mohammed told reporters at the hearing: “I remember him saying he didn’t know why he bothered to come because he couldn’t get his papers.”

She added: “He said he regretted ever coming to the UK. Alex thought no one wanted to help him.”

She ended: “He thought life was better and he thought he might be able to work and help his family by sending money back.”

In a statement, his father Tecle Sium Tesfamichel said: “He was a very loveable and sociable young man and had many friends.”

He added: “He had a brilliant sense of humour and found it easy to get on with many different people. He was an outgoing young man and made friends easily.”

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Speaking of the tough time his son had endured, his father continued: “He was peaceful and did not like fighting. He was a friendly and helpful person, not someone to look for a fight. He was a good person and I still don’t fully understand what happened to him in the UK.”

He also said: “As a parent, you hope to never experience the loss of a child. I hoped he was safe in the UK and would build his life, go to college and get a job and one day marry and have children.”

Benny Hunter, a British charity worker who helped Mr Telke said: “I met Alex in the Jungle in the camp there. I asked him if he would like any help.

“He seemed very young and very vulnerable. I very strongly remember his response was ‘people are always asking if they want to help me, but no one ever helps me’ and I felt really sad for him.”

Ending on his feeling about Mr Tekle, he said: “Everything that happened to him was very traumatic and I get quite emotional when I think about it.”

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He said when refugees were evicted from the camp, children were taken on buses to accommodation centres all over France and interviewed by the UK Home Office for assessment.

Alex was rejected for asylum and returned to Calais where he slept in the woods, Mr Hunter said.

The inquest heard Mr Hunter heard from police in December 2016 Alex had made it across the border in the back of a refrigerated lorry.

He stayed at a children’s immigration centre in Ashford, Kent, and was under the care of social services.

There was then a dispute over Alex’s age as he initially told a social worker he was 18 in a few weeks time, but official documents stated he would turn 18 until August.

He was moved to a hostel for adult asylum seekers in London after Kent social services said it would be “unsafe” to keep Alex in children’s accommodation, the inquest heard.

The coroner heard Alex was then assaulted at the hostel and became homeless.

The teenager developed a drinking problem and was admitted to hospital on several occasions for hypoglycaemia – a low blood sugar level – as a result of heavy drinking and not eating enough.

Britain has seen a surge in illegal migration over the last year.

The year 2021 saw more than 28,300 people make the treacherous journey – triple the number for the year before, according to figures from the Home Office and analysed by the PA news agency.

The figures come as ministers are warned that arrivals will continue and more people will drown in the stretch of sea between France and Britain if the government pursues its current “dangerous and callous” immigration plan.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has come under intense scrutiny over her handling of the situation, with many calls for her to resign over the issue.

The UK has paid France in excess of £50million to help fund extra patrols on the French coast, however, this has failed to stem the problem.

The highest number of crossings was recorded in November, when at least 6,869 people reached the country, with more than 3,100 of those arriving in the space of six days.

On 24 November, at least 27 people died when their boat, which was likened to a blow-up pool, sank in the Channel.

Additional reporting by Adela Whittingham


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