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River death girl 'hit by parents'

9 January 08 13:18 GMT

A teenage girl whose body was found on a riverbank five months after she vanished was "beaten and robbed" by her parents, an inquest has heard.

The decomposed body of Shafilea Ahmed, 17, of Liverpool Road, Warrington, was found on a Cumbrian riverbank in 2004.

The inquest was told Shafilea was unhappy about her parents' plans for an arranged marriage for her in Pakistan.

Homelessness officer Anne-Marie Woods, from whom Shafilea sought advice, said she feared she would never return home.

Ms Woods, giving evidence at the inquest at County Hall in Kendal, Cumbria, said Shafilea alleged her parents beat and robbed her.

In a personal statement written by the schoolgirl, as part of an effort to apply for accommodation away from her parents' home, Shafilea said: ""I had saved £2,000 which they took out of my bank account.

"My parents are going to send me to Pakistan and I'll be married to someone and left there.

"There had been a build-up of violence towards me, and my mother told me I was about to go to Pakistan for an arranged marriage.

"My mother had started to pack and my parents had been in to school to inform them we were going to Pakistan."

'Genuinely frightened'

Ms Woods said: "She came across as a shy, quiet girl.

"She came across as being genuinely frightened of this impending arranged marriage."

Ms Wood said the teenager turned down accommodation in a Liverpool refuge because she did not want to disrupt her education in Warrington where she was hoping to become a lawyer.

She said the teenager was given emergency accommodation in a hotel and told a flat would be available on 10 February 2003, but chose to go back home.

Ms Woods added: "She had returned to her parents after they had agreed not to take her to Pakistan."

'Not credible'

Police arrested her parents on suspicion of kidnap alongside five other relatives from Bradford after her teachers reported her missing in 2003.

But all were later released from bail.

At the opening of the hearing Shafilea's father said he was "surprised" when she went missing.

Pathologist Dr Alison Armour also revealed it was "not credible" that Shafilea died of natural causes.

The medical expert believed the teenager been strangled or smothered to death.

Despite a five-year murder investigation by police nobody has ever been convicted over Shafilea's death.

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