Bibby Stockholm: Albanian asylum seeker treated like animal before his death, sister claims

Leonard Farruku, 27, paid €4,000 to cross the Channel in a small boat last summer
Leonard Farruku, 27, paid €4,000 to cross the Channel in a small boat last summer

An Albanian asylum seeker who died on the Bibby Stockholm in a suspected suicide said he was being treated like an animal before his death, his sister has claimed.

The Telegraph can reveal Leonard Farruku, 27, who paid €4,000 (£3,436) to cross the Channel in a small boat last summer, has been named by his family as the migrant who is suspected of taking his own life on the Bibby Stockholm.

It emerged last week that the asylum seeker had complained about his mental health the day before he died and, according to other migrants on the barge, had been heard shouting and banging on the wall of his cabin.

He was alive when the asylum seeker with whom he shared his cabin got up to go to the IT centre on the barge. Staff discovered Mr Farruku’s body shortly afterwards.

His sister Jola Dushku, 33, who lives in Lombardy in Italy said she was shocked by the news, which they learned from relatives in the UK contacted by police investigating the death.

Police officers walk down the steps of the Bibby Stockholm Barge as a body is brought out on a gurney
Leonard Farruku complained about his mental health the night before he died - FINNBARR WEBSTER/GETTY IMAGES

“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.” said Ms Dushku.

“My brother, when he arrived in the UK, gave the Home Office the address of our relatives in London. They were contacted by the police who told them what had happened.

“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.”

There are understood to be 300 male asylum seekers currently housed on the barge. It has a capacity for up to 506 migrants, who are expected to share two, three or four to a cabin.

The Bibby Stockholm has been blighted by problems since it was docked at Portland in July, including a series of health and safety issues. It had to be evacuated in the summer after the discovery of the potentially deadly legionella bacteria in the water supply.

People lay flowers at the vigil for the deceased asylum seeker, outside Portland Port
People lay flowers at the vigil for the deceased asylum seeker, outside Portland Port - FINNBARR WEBSTER/GETTY IMAGES EUROPE

The death comes after a 23-year-old man tried to kill himself in a hotel car park in Essex last month, after hearing that he was due to be transferred to the Bibby Stockholm.

Mr Farruku arrived in the UK on a small boat last August as part of a surge of more than 12,000 Albanians across the Channel, a quarter of all crossings last year.

Born in the village of Manez, near the city of Durres, Albania’s second biggest city, his sister said he came to the UK in search of work and to secure indefinite leave to remain.

“He came to the UK with the dream to find better work and,  most importantly, to get indefinite leave to remain in the UK,” said Ms Dushku.

She said they had lost both their parents, a bereavement that changed her brother. “Leonard became a different person when our mum died. Her death changed him,” she said.

She said he was determined to get indefinite leave to remain in the UK so wanted to “fulfil all the Home Office requests”. “He said: ‘Yes’, when they told him his new accommodation would be in that boat where he spent the last days of his life,” she said.

“I will find peace in my mind only when I will find the truth of what happened that night in Bibby Stockholm,” she said.

The barge is one of three major accommodation sites for migrants designed to reduce the £8 million a day cost of housing asylum seekers in hotels.. The other two are the disused RAF base at Wethersfield in Essex and RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, which has yet to open.

A Home Office spokesman said: “This was a tragic incident, and our thoughts are with everyone affected. The welfare of all those in our care is of the utmost importance, and we take our responsibility for their wellbeing incredibly seriously.

“This will now be investigated by the police and coroner. It is right that the facts and circumstances surrounding this death are established.”

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