Grenfell Inquiry phase concludes with horrific tale of ‘forgotten four’ tenants

·3-min read
(Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)
(Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)

Recollections of the final moments of a Syrian refugee who fell 14 floors from Grenfell Tower and a mother who saw her two-year-old son die have been heard on the closing day of module eight in the inquiry.

On Thursday, the official public inquiry into the 2017 disaster heard the last submissions from lawyers on behalf of the 72 people who died in the blaze.

All panel members stood for a 72-second silence in their memory, before each name was read aloud at the end of the hearing.

Grenfell Tower in west London, on the day of the fire (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)
Grenfell Tower in west London, on the day of the fire (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

The inquiry is due to resume on November 7 with closing statements from lawyers, and a report will be published afterwards.

The accounts heard on Thursday included the final moments of eight residents who had been told to wait in flat 113 on the 14th floor.

Four of the tenants were escorted to safety by London Fire Brigade (LFB) crews at around 2.30am, but the remaining four died after firefighters received confused instructions on their whereabouts, the inquiry heard.

As Allison Munroe QC called them, “the forgotten four” were single mother Zainab Deen, 32, her son Jeremiah Deen, two, their Irish neighbour Denis Murphy, 56, and Syrian refugee Mohammad Alhajali, 23.

Zainab Deen (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)
Zainab Deen (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

The first three died from smoke inhalation over the course of a few hours, while Mr Alhajali, a civil engineering student, survived the longest but fell from the window as he tried to escape at around 4am.

His body was found face-up and covered in debris on Grenfell Walk.

Tributes were paid to each resident.

Ms Deen, originally from Sierra Leone in west Africa, was described by friend Francis Dean as “like champagne, very bubbly”, and her son as “a very clever and happy child”.

Jeremiah Deen (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)
Jeremiah Deen (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

She had escaped “an unhappy and tormented” marriage and homelessness, and was proud of securing a tenancy in the tower to start a new life with her son.

Ms Deen had been due to start a waitressing job on June 19, and Mr Dean said she had been “dancing for joy at the prospect”.

The inquiry heard that during an hour-long 999 call on the night of the fire, Ms Deen pleaded with emergency services to save her son, before telling them he had died.

She succumbed to the smoke while still on the line.

Denis Murphy (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Archive)
Denis Murphy (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Archive)

Mr Murphy had lived in the tower for over three decades, was from a “large and loving Irish family” and was described by friends as “integral to the Grenfell community” because he was always helping other residents.

The Hammersmith-born resident loved Chelsea FC, and was like an uncle to many of the children in the North Kensington block, the inquiry heard.

Mr Alhajali, from Damascus, had also been taken to wait in flat 113 with his brother Omar Alhaj Ali, who was among those escorted to safety and who desperately implored firefighters to return.

His parents and two sisters had stayed in Syria, and the Grenfell Tower Inquiry heard that he had “dreamed one day he would be able to bring his family together in one place where they would be able to settle and live their best life”.

Mohammad Alhajali (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)
Mohammad Alhajali (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

Inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick concluded the hearing by saying: “There can be nobody who ever had a heart who, hearing those presentations, could remain unmoved and unthinking.

“My team and I can only admire the dignified bearing of those left behind – the grieving families who still travel the hard road.

“They have endured many months of detailed and often dry evidence with patience, and they have now heard graphic and unsparing accounts in modest and silent reflection.

“Their dignity and their courage in the face of the ineffable horror is its own tribute – a light shining out in the darkness.”

He said the panel had more than 300,000 documents to consider over the coming months, until the inquiry resumes for final statements on November 7.

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