Fire victim had made 999 distress call hours before his death
Met's internal standards team to look at Jacob Sulliman's contact with police before fatal blaze
14 December, 2017 — By William McLennan
Jacob Suliman had “the most infectious laugh”
THE family of a man who died in a fire say they have been left with a long list of unanswered questions after it emerged that he had called police in a state of “distress” hours before his death.
Jacob Suliman was pulled from a burning room in a sheltered housing block in Alexandra Place, Swiss Cottage by firefighters at around 8am on Friday morning, but the 65-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later.
The Met’s internal standards department are reviewing Mr Suliman’s “contact with police prior to his death” after it was discovered officers had answered calls to a “distressed occupant” at Robert Morton House at around 5.40pm the day before.
The six-storey building is described by operators Origin Housing as “retirement housing”.
Mr Suliman’s brother, Mohamed, told the New Journal yesterday (Wednesday) that he wanted to see a full investigation into the fire and any earlier contact with the emergency services.
He said: “He was old. He was disabled. It is natural that there would be very many ways to safeguard from this accident. I want to know, what are the procedures?
“My brother is dead, that cannot be undone. But there are other old people in this home and similar homes and an accident like this should not happen.”
He said the family had been told nothing about the nature of his brother’s emergency call and had not been contacted by the housing association.
The London Fire Brigade said the cause of the blaze in still under investigation.
They will prepare a report for the coroner, ahead of an inquest that is expected to take place at St Pancras Coroner’s Court next year. It was the borough’s second fatal fire within three weeks, following the death of 35-year-old Magdalena Fink in Hampstead on November 21.
Mohamed, who lives nearby in Swiss Cottage, said his brother had lived a rich and full life, travelling around the world to work as a hotel manager.
He was born in Sudan and moved to Europe in the early-1970s, first settling in Bulgaria, before moving to Germany where he studied his trade. He went on to manage several hotels and moved to Holland where he married and had a daughter.
Mohamed said: “My daughter visited him in Holland and found him alone and asked him to move to London and be near us. He has been here for six years.
“He was a decent guy. He was funny, very entertaining. He loved life.”
The youngest of seven siblings, Mr Suliman had five brothers and one sister, who live across the globe, from Ottawa in Canada to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
“We are all alive except him,” said his brother, who is a professor of physical chemistry.
“So many of us left the Sudan because of the aggressive regime of the Muslim Brotherhood, who controlled the Sudan in the last 20 years, but we are not dependent upon the benefit system of the countries we go to.”
His niece, Azza, said: “He was a people person. He just got on with people. He had the most infectious laugh.”
His sister-in-law, Fatima, a professor of political economy, said: “We are very distressed and we really want the system to answer our questions and be concerned about our concerns.”
Jacob Suliman (second from right) with his brother Mohamed (left)
A spokeswoman for Origin Housing said: “This is very upsetting news for all those involved and our thoughts are with the family. Fortunately no other residents were affected by the fire and all are safe and well and being supported by staff on site.
“We are co-operating fully with the fire brigade investigation currently underway.”
A Met spokeswoman said: “Police were called to an address at Alexandra Place, Camden at 1739 hours on Thursday, 7 December by a distressed occupant. Officers attended. No offences were disclosed. London Ambulance Service were called, however the caller declined medical assessment.
“The male’s contact with police prior to his death has been referred to the Directorate of Professional Standards