Arrest made following murder of 19-year-old London uni student in Clerkenwell

22-year-old Maher Maaroufe was arrested ‘on suspicion of murder and assault’

TW: Distressing content

A first-year psychology student at City, University of London died after being found with “serious neck injuries” at Arbour House, a private student accommodation in Clerkenwell, in the early morning of Saturday, 19 March.

The Met named the victim as 19-year-old Sabita Thanwani on Sunday, 20 March and arrested 22-year-old suspect Maher Maaroufe, a Tunisian national believed to be in a relationship with the victim at the time of her murder. A manhunt for him went on for a day before the police found him and made the arrest.

Detective Chief Inspector Linda Bradley, who is leading the investigation, said: “I would like to thank everyone for publicising and sharing our appeal to trace Maaroufe. Sabita’s family have been updated with this development and continue to be supported by specially trained officers. Our deepest condolences are with them.”

In the morning of the murder, the vicim’s neighbours at Arbour House reported hearing “loud banging,” “screams,” “voice of a grown man,” and “someone running out of a back ground floor exit.”

An anonymous 19-year-old finance student told The Independent: “I saw the police in the morning and there were helicopters.

“I am completely shocked and obviously traumatised.”

Others in the accommodation also described themselves as “very frightened,” with some being seen leaving the building with suitcases.

Angelina Miats, a City student from Belarus, told MyLondon: “I think it’s quite dangerous in London, I didn’t expect something like this to happen, to me or to any of my friends, or the building where I live.

“I feel really scared and I’m not sure I want to stay here anymore, because it’s really scary.”

Chief Inspector Adam Instone of the police attempted to reassure residents in the area and London students affected: “Arbour House is student accommodation, and I know there will be great sadness and deep concern among local people and the student community.

“I share their sadness and their concerns. And I can assure them that a thorough homicide investigation is under way, led by skilled and experienced detectives who will work tirelessly to identify and arrest whoever is responsible.

“Tackling violent crime is the Met’s top priority. Police officers, including forensic specialists, remain at the scene. Local people will also see additional police in the area. If you have any concerns about safety in and around Clerkenwell, please speak with those officers,” he said.

City, University of London and its students have also been showing support to those affected by the tragedy.

A spokesperson for the university told The London Tab: “As a University, we will do everything we can to support our students and staff and we will continue to fully support the Police with their investigation. We are working closely with Unite Students who own and operate Arbour House.”

Unite Students, the company managing the accommodation, is reportedly offering free alternative places to stay to the Clerkenwell residents. It said in a statement: “As this remains an ongoing police incident, we are unable to comment on their investigation.

“Our priority at this time is the safety and wellbeing of students at Arbour House. We are working closely with the police and City, University of London.”

But the company did not respond to claims made by residents to The Independent that they “had lax security which only ran from 12-8pm on weekdays.”

Cover image credit: The Metropolitan Police

Anyone with information that could assist police is asked to call the incident room on 020 8358 1010. Alternatively, call 101 or tweet @MetCC and quote CAD1252/19March.

If you are experiencing distress related to this tragedy, please speak to someone. Samaritans can be contacted by calling 116 123, Anxiety UK by 03444 775 774, and Mind by 0300 123 3393 at any time. 

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