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Sara Sharif, 10, found dead at home in Woking, 'tripped and broke her neck', uncle tells police
22 August 2023, 22:07 | Updated: 8 September 2023, 14:53
A girl who was found dead at home in Surrey, sparking an international manhunt, "fell down the stairs and broke her neck", her uncle has claimed.
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Sara Sharif's body was found at home in Woking after police were called from Pakistan by her father, Urfan Sharif, at about 2.50am on August 10, Surrey Police said.
Sara's uncle Imran Sharif is being held in police custody in Pakistan.
Detectives are hunting Mr Sharif, 41, his partner, Beinash Batool, 29, and his brother, Faisal Malik, 28, who are wanted for questioning.
Police believe they travelled to Islamabad on August 9, with five children aged between one and 13.
Imran Sharif said he didn't know where Urfan and his family were, Jhelum police told Sky News.
Sara's uncle told them: "I found out what happened to Sara through the international media.
"My parents told me Urfan briefly came home very upset. He kept saying 'they' are going to take his children away from him."
"They" referred to British authorities, the police said.
Mr Sharif is said to have told officers: "Beinash was home with the children. Sara fell down the stairs and broke her neck. Beinash panicked and phoned Urfan."
Surrey Police said that Sara "suffered multiple and extensive injuries" that were "likely to have been caused over a sustained and extended period of time". Her exact cause of death is unknown.
She was known to Surrey County Council while she was alive, the local authority said.
On Friday council leader Tim Oliver said: "We can confirm Sara Sharif was known to Surrey County Council but we cannot comment further while the Surrey Safeguarding Children Partnership's thorough review process is ongoing."
Mr Oliver said: "This is an incredibly sad situation and our thoughts and deepest condolences are with everyone affected."
The national Child Safeguarding panel has been notified of the death and a multi-agency rapid review is under way, in line with standard process following the death of a child, Mr Oliver added.
"This rapid review will determine whether a local child safeguarding practice review (LCSPR) is to be undertaken by the Surrey Safeguarding Children Partnership.
"An LCSPR is a statutory process, bringing together partners including the police, health, social care and education to review practice of all agencies involved, organisational structures and learning."
Jacquie Chambers, headteacher of St Mary's C of E primary school in Byfleet - where Sara had been a Year 5 pupil, said she would be "dearly missed" by pupils and teachers.
In a statement, she said: "She [Sara] was a bubbly, confident little girl who had the most beautiful smile. She was full of ideas and was very passionate about the things she believed in."
Ms Chambers added: "Sara will be dearly missed and, as a school community, we are all deeply affected by this tragedy.
"Our thoughts, prayers and sympathy are with those affected by this heartbreaking news."
She said St Mary's C of E was "fully supporting partner agencies with their investigations", before adding their current priority was "to support our school community as they grieve and recover".