Inquest into death of railway worker Belly Mujinga who died of Covid after being ‘spat on’ at London Victoria station during first lockdown will NOT look at whether she was infected by a passenger
- Belly Mujinga, 47, died on April 5 2020 with coronavirus after she was ‘spat at’
- British Transport Police interviewed man but said there wasn’t enough evidence
- ‘AB’, the 57-year-old initial suspect, will not form part of Mrs Mujinga’s inquest
- Andrew Walker, London coroner, previously apologised for delays to her inquest
The man who allegedly spat at Belly Mujinga who died with coronavirus at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic will no longer form part of an inquest into the transport worker’s death.
Mrs Mujinga, 47, died on April 5, 2020 with coronavirus after she was reportedly coughed on and spat at days earlier by a 57-year-old customer – known only as AB – at London’s Victoria station.
The alleged incident took place two days before the nationwide lockdown, and nearly a week after the Prime Minister told the public to ‘stop non-essential contact and travel’.
But a pre-inquest hearing on Friday heard the behaviour of the 57-year-old male passenger will not form part of the scope into Ms Mujinga’s death.
Both Govia Thameslink Railway and police have previously concluded that ‘no spitting incident took place’.
Senior coroner Andrew Walker told the pre-inquest review that it was ‘no longer necessary for AB to form part of the inquest’.
Instead, the investigation will centre on whether the married mother-of-one should have been shielding at the time, due to underlying health issues which her family said placed her in the ‘vulnerable’ category.
Belly Mujinga, pictured with her husband Lusamba Katalay, who died with Covid-19 after allegedly being spat at while on duty
Mrs Mujinga was working as a sales clerk at the time of the confrontation on the London Victoria concourse (file image)
Ms Mujinga, 47, died on April 5 2020, having been admitted to hospital days earlier with breathing difficulties.
Her inquest is expected to resume next month.
Barnet Coroner’s Court previously heard the inquest would be unlikely to find out how the infection occurred, but that it may be possible to discover where Ms Mujinga was infected – potentially on her way to work, or at work.
British Transport Police interviewed AB over the incident but said there was not enough evidence to prove a crime had been committed.
He subsequently returned a negative covid test, having allegedly told Ms Mujinga he was infected at the time of the confrontation.
Mr Walker said medical experts would be asked to assess whether Ms Mujinga should have been shielding at the time due to her ‘medical condition’.
Elaine Banton, for Ms Mujinga’s family, replied: ‘Belly Mujinga was a disabled employee – there may have been missed opportunities to protect her.’
Ms Banton said she understood that AB’s conduct was outside the scope of the inquest.
The coroner dismissed an application from the family to delay the inquest until the conclusion of the Covid-19 public inquiry, on the basis that it was unlikely the hearings would offer any information useful to determine the circumstances of Ms Mujinga’s death.
The next administrative hearing will take place on June 21, with the inquest proper expected to resume either on June 27, or be put off until the winter.
Mrs Mujinga’s husband, Lusamba Gode Katalay, and daughter, Ingrid, were two of only 10 people permitted at her funeral due to coronavirus restrictions in place at the time.
Her death prompted an outpouring of grief and a demand for answers about what happened.
Timeline of Belly Mujinga’s death and the police investigation
- March 21, 2020: Belly Mujinga is allegedly spat at by a customer at London Victoria train station who claims to have ‘the virus’
- March 21: Her colleague Motolani Sunmola reports the incident to their employer Govia Thameslink Railway
- March 25: The suspect is tested for Covid-19 but results confirm he had not been infected
- April 2: Mrs Mujinga is taken to hospital after becoming unwell
- April 5: She dies in hospital
- April 8: The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association tells GTR about an allegation of deliberate coughing
- May 12: The TSSA claims Mrs Mujinga has been assaulted by a man who deliberately coughed and spat at her, saying he ‘had the virus’
- August 6: Crown Prosecution Service says insufficient evidence has emerged for it to bring charges against anyone relating to homicide, assault or public order offences
- September 16: A report by GTR suggests the alleged attack never happened because no complaints about spitting were made at the time by staff and police also ‘concluded that no spitting incident took place’
- October 12: A BBC documentary reveals CCTV footage which allegedly showed Mrs Mujinga running away after she was said to have been spat on by a man was deemed ‘inconclusive’ by police
- April 4, 2021: The family of Mrs Mujinga call for police to disclose the suspect’s name so they can sue him
- May 7: North London coroner Andrew Walker says that there will be an inquest into her death
- July: The coroner says that an expert will be needed to deal with the possible causes of the Covid infection that led to Mrs Mujinga’s death
- January 2022: Coroner apologises to Mrs Mujinga’s family for delays into the inquest for the railway worker
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