Sara Sharif: Community reeling after death of 10-year-old, local MP says

Sara Sharif
Image caption,Authorities said Sara Sharif had suffered “multiple and extensive injuries”, likely caused over a sustained period of time

By Flaminia Luck

BBC News

A community is “reeling” after a 10-year-old girl was found dead at her home in Woking, the local MP has said.

Sara Sharif was found on 10 August prompting a murder inquiry and international manhunt.

Jonathan Lord said the initial reaction was to “want to blame not just the perpetrators but to find out why a little girl is dead”.

Surrey County Council confirmed Sara was known to the authorities and a multi-agency review was under way.

On Monday police began a search of the family’s previous address in Eden Grove Road, West Byfleet.

Surrey Police said they expect that search to take about a week.

Speaking to BBC Radio Surrey, Mr Lord said this was a “shocking case” but described Woking as a “resilient place”.

“Our churches have been praying, our mosques have been praying,” he said, adding that the community would “bounce back”.

“Whenever one of these cases occurs, and there have been others, everyone immediately sympathises, empathises, with the young person that would appear to have been abused,” he said.

A van, balloon and flowers outside a house, which also has a gazebo set up outside
Image caption,Tributes left outside the address Sara was found in Hammond Road, Woking

Mr Lord said people would be “very interested to learn more about the contact” between Sara and the authorities.

“We’re so shocked, so upset and so sad about this that the initial reaction is to want to blame not just the perpetrators but to find out why a little girl is dead.”

He said young people “have been let down in the past by agencies” but urged people not to “jump to conclusions”, adding that cases like this were “very, very rare”.

He said the review, as well as the police investigation, would help authorities to “learn lessons” and “minimise the risk of this sort of tragedy happening again”.

After it was revealed that Sara had been known to Surrey authorities, campaigner on children’s social care Chris Wild, who advised the government’s most recent review into children’s social care, told the BBC’s World at One programme this meant Sara would have been “on their radar”, and there may have been a child protection order in place, or a safeguarding concern made.

“When these things happen of course they’re avoidable. Hindsight’s a wonderful thing, but when you look at things like this, when you start looking at what prevention has been put in place, you find you can avoid things like this happening.

“I’d be interested to see, when this does come to fruition, what has actually happened and in what respect she [Sara] was known to local authorities,” he said.

Urfan Sharif and Beinash Batool
Image caption,Urfan Sharif and his partner Beinash Batool are sought by police

Three people who travelled to Pakistan before Sara’s body was found are wanted for questioning by Surrey Police. They are Sara’s father, Urfan Sharif, 41, his partner, Beinash Batool, 29, and his brother, Faisal Malik, 28.

Surrey Police have said Mr Sharif made a 999 call from Pakistan shortly after landing in Islamabad with his partner, his brother and five children, aged between one and 13.

The call led officers to the house in Woking where they found the body of Sara, who had suffered “multiple and extensive injuries”, likely to have been caused over a sustained period of time.

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