'˜Choking game was rife' at school of tragic Bradford 11-year-old

An inquest into the death of an 11-year-old Bradford boy has been dramatically adjourned after new evidence suggesting a choking game was rife at his school emerged.

Asad Khan. Pic from Ross Parry News Agency.

Asad Khan was found hanged by his mother after she forced her way through his locked bedroom door.

It has previously been claimed he was being bullied at a new school and was doing homework for other pupils in the weeks before his death.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But today new evidence emerged just hours before the inquest into his death was due to proceed at Bradford Coroners’ Court in West Yorkshire.

It was claimed that a game called the ‘choking game’ was being played “all over the school” at the time of Asad’s death.

The youngster had attended Beckfoot Upper Heaton school in Bradford for just three weeks before he died on September 28, 2015.

Ruth Bundey, legal representative for the family, made an application for the inquest to be adjourned in light of the new evidence.

The game had never been mentioned during interviews with witnesses, Asad’s family claims.

Ms Bundey added that she believed the reluctance of some witnesses to attend court may have been due to not wanting to speak about the ‘game’.

She told the coroner: “As I understand it, the children had been interviewed until the end of 2016. These interviews had been completed.

“A police officer visited the student support officer in January of this year and she mentioned to him a choking game called ‘good kids high’ that was ‘all over the school’ at the time.

“There has been reluctance from the interviewed children to attend court and it is possibly because these children knew about this game.

“Therefore, there has to be an adjournment in this case.”

The ‘game’ involves children either choking themselves or each other just long enough to be able achieve a short high.

A rope or a cord may be used to choke themselves or each other.

Coroner Martin Fleming agreed to adjourn the inquest for a statutory 28 days but Ms Bundey suggested the family may seek a longer adjournment with a judicial review at the High Court.

Mr Fleming said: “I am provisionally going to adjourn this inquest for 28 days until July 3.

“It is my view that we have all of the appropriate witnesses in court today, this is an adjournment on speculative grounds, we will review this in 28 days.”

Ruth Bundey, speaking outside court after the adjournment, said: “The new evidence is absolutely stunning.

“We only learned today that an officer visited the school in January, six months ago, and was told that at the time of Asad’s death, the game was ‘all over the school’.

“That was the quotation the officer gave in his statement.

“The game was something called ‘the choking game’ and it was some form of getting a high from putting something around your neck and witnessing it in a mirror.

“We have never heard any of this before and don’t know what happened to the school’s duty of care if this game was ‘all over the school’.

“We also wonder whether the reluctance of all of the children who have been contacted in this case to come anywhere near this inquest is because they knew this background and didn’t want to have to talk about it.”

The family were also issued an apology by the police officer after CCTV they believed to show Asad talking to the student support officer on the day of his death - but was told at the pre-inquest review didn’t exist - was in fact available.

Ms Bundey added: “The police have also told us that they have all sorts of new CCTV to show us and on the basis of these two aspects, I applied for the coroner to adjourn.

“He refused and we now have to ask for his decision to be reviewed. We are now going to apply for judicial review.”

Speaking outside the court, family spokesperson Fatima Patel added: “It is very important to highlight how disappointed the family have been with the way that the police have investigated this case.

“The bone of contention that we have had is footage approaching a teacher who deals with reports of bullying within the school.

“Then we were told by the investigating officer that no such footage exists. Now having an apology that it seems that they have not given this footage is welcome at this stage.

“This case has been going on for the last six months and the family were hoping for some closure in this case.

“Sadly, with the new information, that is not going to be the case.

“Unfortunately this process is going to take much longer and it is not what the family want at this time.”