No police action to be taken over deaths of two teenagers on Bournemouth beach, cops say

14 July 2023, 21:30 | Updated: 14 July 2023, 22:50

Joe Abbess and Sunnah Khan
Joe Abbess and Sunnah Khan. Picture: social media
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

No criminal offences were committed in relation to the deaths of two people off Bournemouth beach in May, police have said.

A man in his 40s who was initially arrested on suspicion of manslaughter will face no further action, Dorset Police added.

Joe Abbess, 17, and Sunnah Khan, 12, drowned, and eight other people were treated by paramedics after they were suspected to have been caught in a riptide next to the pier at the Dorset seaside resort on May 31.

A Dorset Police statement said: "Following a full and detailed investigation, officers have reached a position to make the evidence-based decision that no criminal offences were committed.

Joe Abbess and Sunnah Khan
Joe Abbess and Sunnah Khan. Picture: social media

"No further action will be taken in respect of a man who was arrested in connection with this incident. He has been fully released from the investigation.

"When the criminal investigation was ongoing only a limited amount of information could be released into the public domain. This was due to the requirement to protect the integrity of the investigation."

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Joe Abbess, 17, from Southampton, and Sunnah Khan, 12, from Buckinghamshire, were rescued from the sea during the incident on Wednesday, but both died in hospital.

In a hearing to open the inquest proceedings at Bournemouth Town Hall, Dorset coroner's officer Nicola Muller said that post mortem examinations carried out by Home Office pathologist Basil Purdue showed the cause of their deaths was drowning.

She said that Joe, a trainee chef, was taken to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital where he was pronounced dead, and Sunnah was taken to Poole General Hospital.

She said that Joe was identified by Detective Constable Hannah Webster by a photograph provided by his family, and Sunnah was identified by her father at the hospital.

Describing the incident, Ms Muller said: "The brief circumstances are that emergency services were contacted by members of the public following swimmers had come into difficulty in the water, following suggestion they had been caught in a riptide."