Woman plunges 18 floors to her death as police arrive for arrest

An 18-year-old woman plunged 18 floors to her death yesterday in an apparent bid to escape police.

Scotland Yard faces an inquiry from the police watchdog after it emerged she fell when officers arrived at the flat in Woolwich, south-east London in which she was staying in to make an arrest.

Neighbours described how the “friendly” teenager’s death was witnessed by children on the estate.

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Witnesses also said a row could be heard from the flat before she fell.

The mixed-race woman plunged from the 17th floor as officers arrested a man, understood to be her boyfriend, on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Police had arrived at the flat in Mulgrave Road at 9.30am “to carry out an arrest inquiry” relating to a prison recall.

The incident has been referred to both the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and the force’s Directorate of Professional Standards.

Neighbour Prince Langlais, 42, said he knew both the victim and the man who was arrested.

“I knew them to say hello to because I live just around the corner. A lot of people round here know each other, they see the same face more or less every day.”

He added: “They were very friendly people.”

Mr Langlais criticised the police for the time it took to cover the woman’s body.

“There were kids running around watching the body,” he said. “The police could have done their job a bit quicker and better than that.

“There were young kids out there running up and saying ‘look at the body and all the blood’.”

He described the incident as a “tragedy”.

Police later covered the body with a white and yellow tent on an area of grass next to the tower block.

Forensic officers were examining the scene, and police were patrolling the entrance to the building.

Carpenter Michael Mulkerrins, 28, who lives two floors directly below the woman, said his partner heard a row from inside the flat a few minutes before the incident.

“He heard an argument, he heard shouting and bawling. About 10 minutes later she was out of the window.

“He didn’t see the girl but he did see her on the floor,” he said.

Mr Mulkerrins added: “I’ve seen him quite a lot by himself. It could be his flat and she was staying over.”

He said he spoke to the man when they passed in the corridor, and described him as “an alright chap”.

The man often had a skateboard, he added, and had lived in the block for around four months.

On the 17th floor yesterday, two officers were standing guard outside flat 66, where forensic teams were examining the home.

A representative from the IPCC also arrived at the scene.

A neighbour said the man was in his late teens or early twenties and had been living at the flat for about six months. He said the woman was his girlfriend and regularly stayed there.

“Sometimes I’d knock on the door and ask for a cigarette and she would be there,” he said.

A police spokesman said: “Shortly after the officers entered the flat, a woman, who is believed to be 18, fell from a bedroom window on the 17th floor.

“She was pronounced dead at the scene. We await formal identification. A post-mortem examination will be scheduled in due course.

“A man was arrested by officers on suspicion of assisting an offender and is currently in custody at a south London police station.”