Vandals blamed for ‘beautiful baby’ girl’s fall death

28/06/2012'Wicker Riverside apartments on North Bank block Sheffield, South Yorkshire where a 3 year old Rayaheem Banimuslim has fallen from fourth floor balcony and died from her injuries.'''rossparry.co.uk / syndication
28/06/2012'Wicker Riverside apartments on North Bank block Sheffield, South Yorkshire where a 3 year old Rayaheem Banimuslim has fallen from fourth floor balcony and died from her injuries.'''rossparry.co.uk / syndication
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THIS is ‘beautiful baby’ Ryaheen Banimuslem who died after plunging from a block of flats in Sheffield - where residents say glass in balcony barriers has been smashed by vandals before.

Vandals could be to blame for the tot’s death after she plunged 60ft from the fourth floor, where a pane of glass was missing from a safety barrier.

The building’s management company confirmed glass panels had been reported broken - and replaced - in the past.

A family friend said the two-year-old’s mum watched in horror as Ryaheen fell while playing on the communal balcony at Wicker Riverside apartments, on North Bank, off The Wicker.

“I can’t describe it. She was playing with other kids nicely. Her mother saw her fall,” he said. “They are heartbroken. She was lovely and beautiful and always playing.”

The flats’ managing agent said no glass was identified as missing or smashed in its most recent site visit on Monday, two days before Ryaheen’s death.

A spokeswoman added the firm had no record of residents notifying the company of missing or broken panels between then and the tragedy on Wednesday.

Police are investigating the incident and the Health and Safety Executive is also making initial inquiries.

Ryaheen’s father, Hikmat Banimuslem, said the family was grieving for ‘our beautiful daughter’. “We are deeply shocked,” he said.

Family friend Baseem Alsabbagh, 36, said the girl’s mum was close by but unable to stop her daughter from plummeting 60ft to her death.

He said she fell through an opening where a glass panel in the balcony should have been.

“She watched her fall down,” he said. “I can’t describe it. She was playing with other kids nicely. Her mother saw her fall down.

“They are heartbroken. She was a lovely, beautiful baby, always playing. We have happy memories of her.”

Mr Alsabbagh said the family were from Iraq, and moved into the flats last September. Dad Hikmat is studying for a PhD at Sheffield Hallam University.

The family live on the eighth floor, but Ryaheen was playing near a communal garden on the fourth floor when she fell.

Workers from Ryaheen’s nursery, Bright Beginners, wept as they laid flowers for the little girl yesterday. Fellow pupils had made a poster of their handprints, surrounded by the words ‘sweet dreams little angel’.

Shocked residents confirmed the development had been targeted by vandals previously.

Dad Richard Manley, 48, said one glass panel on a balcony had been smashed six weeks ago.

Another resident, who did not want to be named, added: “There has been a lot of vandalism in the building. These glass panels have been broken before.”

Two balcony panels were boarded up yesterday, and officials could be seen examining the scene where Ryaheen fell, overlooking Willey Street car park.

A spokeswoman for managing agency Arim confirmed two glass panels had been reported broken on June 14, and replacements were authorised the same day. The firm has a representative at the building every Monday and Thursday - and this Monday, June 25, two days before Ryaheen’s death, no broken panels were identified, the spokeswoman said.

“The police arranged for the broken panel involved in yesterday’s incident to be boarded up,” she added.

“We are fully investigating the circumstances surrounding this and will work collaboratively with police and the Health and Safety Executive.

“Our thoughts go out to the family at this very difficult time.”

Ryaheen fell at 4.30pm on Wednesday. She was taken to Sheffield Children’s Hospital where she was pronounced dead just after 5pm.

An inquest is likely to open next week.