Tuesday 10 December 2019

Girl (7) dies in hospital after she was shot in the head by her estranged father

Mary Shipstone, 7, who was shot by her estranged father after being caught in the middle of a bitter domestic dispute has died in hospital. Photo: Sussex Police/PA Wire
Mary Shipstone, 7, who was shot by her estranged father after being caught in the middle of a bitter domestic dispute has died in hospital. Photo: Sussex Police/PA Wire
The scene in Northiam, near Rye, East Sussex. Photo: Tom Pugh/PA Wire

Press Association

A seven-year-old girl has died in hospital after it is believed she was shot in the head by her estranged father, who then apparently killed himself.

Mary Shipstone was fighting for life at King's College Hospital, London, after being shot by her father, Yasser Alromisse, in a domestic dispute, but she has died from her injuries.

He turned up at his ex-partner's house in Spring Hill, Northiam, near Rye, East Sussex, at about 4pm yesterday before opening fire from a car parked on a driveway next to her home.

Mary, who lived with her mother and brother at the Spring Hill property, was caught in the middle of a domestic dispute and died at 2.56pm today.

Sussex Police said Alromisse was separated from Mary's mother, did not live at the property and his death was not being treated as suspicious.

Detective chief inspector Jason Taylor said: "There are still a large amount of inquiries being carried out before we can confirm the full picture of what happened.

"We are currently trying to establish Mr Alromisse's movements over the last few days and are keen to hear from anyone who may have seen or heard from him.

"At this time, however, I am not looking for anyone else in connection with this investigation and believe this to be an isolated incident."

Chief superintendent Neil Honnor, Sussex Police's divisional commander for East Sussex, said: "This was a tragic domestic incident that has had the most terrible of outcomes for the family.

"We are working with partner agencies and local leaders to support and reassure the community who are understandably upset about what has happened.

"We are trying to be as open and honest with the public as we can but have to take into account the traumatic experience the family is going through as well as the fact that this is an ongoing investigation.

"If anyone has any concerns about the safety of their neighbourhood I would urge them to contact us but we are sure this was an isolated incident and that no one else is in any danger."

Mary's family issued a statement saying: "We are today grieving the death of our beautiful and loving Mary.

"We would please ask that the public and media respect our privacy and allow us to try to come to terms with what has happened.

"We will not be making any further comment unless it is through Sussex Police."

Earlier, police had warned to expect the worst as Mary fought for her life in hospital. And teachers at her school, Beckley C of E Primary, said they had been praying for her and her family.

Neighbours in the quiet, close-knit community in rural East Sussex told of their shock at the shooting of a young girl in their midst.

Denise Berwick, 38, who lives opposite where the shooting happened, saw Mary's distressed mother cradling her outside her home.

Ms Berwick, who has a nine-year-old son, said: "I had just come in from the school run when it all happened. All I heard was a lady shouting and then I looked out and she was cradling her child in her arms.

"I didn't want to go outside because I have a young child. I recognised the lady from when she introduced herself to me when I moved in.

"She's a lovely lady. She's polite, shook my hand when I first met her and said if I needed anything I could look upon her.

"I don't know if she had a partner and she had never mentioned anything about having domestic problems. It has just come as a huge shock because it's such a quiet area.

"I have never seen anything like that before. It's an absolute tragedy and my heart goes out to the girl and her family."

Retired Eurotunnel worker Fred Lawrence, 75, said Mary took an interest in his pet cat and described her as a "lovely" youngster.

He said: "I last saw the girl this week as she was going to school. She was always with her mum. Her mum was very timid, easy to talk to and a bit insecure but a lovely lady and she would always talk.

"The girl was obsessed by my cat and she would make a fuss before going on her merry way to school. I'm a bit upset talking about this.

"I just feel shocked. It's bloody sad. A man, whether it was her father, he must have been in a hell of a state to do that.

"It's terrible what he has done but what had he been through to shoot the child. The girl's mum I would describe as, not scared, but timid. She seemed Irish.

"We are all close round here and we have lived in this community for around 40 years. It's a good neighbourhood."

The area was still a crime scene tonight with cordons in place as officers sought to work out the circumstances that led up to the shooting.

A police spokesman said: "We can now confirm that the little girl who was shot in Northiam yesterday has sadly died of her injuries.

"Mary Shipstone was seven and lived in Spring Hill, Northiam, with her mother and brother. Trained police officers and hospital staff are currently supporting the family through their terrible ordeal."

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