Heartbroken dad says family was planning US move before arson

Nottingham: Police issue statement after children die in fire

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A devastated father and husband whose wife and children were killed after an arson attack has revealed they were poised to join him for a new life in the US. Aboubacarr Drammeh was working to secure visas for his wife Fatoumatta and their two young daughters so they move to Minnesota, where he works as a biomedical technologist when tragedy struck.

Fatoumatta Hydara, 28, one-year-old Naeemah and Fatimah, aged three, all died in hospital after the fire in Fairisle Close, Nottingham, in the early hours of Sunday, with police rapidly concluding the blaze had been started deliberately.

Mr Drammeh, who had been introduced to Fatoumatta through her uncle, with the couple marrying in 2014.

He said: “The plan was to move Fatoumatta and the kids to America so we could all live together. We had an interview booked for November 29 and that would have been the final interview before we would hopefully have secured their visas.

“That’s not going to happen now and I can’t understand why.”

Three-year-old Fatimah and one-year-old Naeemah died shortly after arriving at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre, while their mother died two days later.

Mr Drammeh, who like Fatoumatta is a devout Ahmadi Muslim, said: “It was 5am when I got the call. I was praying and afterwards, I saw I had missed five calls from the children’s grandmother. I called back and she started crying.

“She said there had been a fire and the kids didn’t make it and that Fatoumatta was in the intensive care unit.

“I just went straight to the airport and flew back alone to the UK. I’ve done that journey so many times but all the other times it’s been exciting because I was going to see my family. This time around… I still can’t recall it. It’s just a blur.”

Understandably, the last week had been the hardest of his life, said Mr Drammeh, who spent his 40th on Wednesday – the day after his wife’s death – in the mortuary.

He said: “I had to go in there and see the bodies. That was just so hard.”

Speaking about his wife, who moved to Nottingham from Gambia with her parents at the age of 14, he added: “Fatoumatta was a very faithful person. She was a Muslim and she truly believed in her faith. She was caring and very compassionate. She’d help whoever she could.

“She loved the kids. They did a lot of baking together and fun things in the house. They would make cookies and cupcakes and loved putting the icing on the cakes.

“We also really enjoyed vacations. We’ve been to places like Edinburgh, Plymouth and The Gambia, where we’re both from.

“We just wanted to bring the kids up to be role models and good citizens. We wanted to move to the US but regardless of where we are in the world the most important thing to us was to give them a better life and a good education.”

His wife was “very passionate person” who “really cared about people”, he stressed.

He said: “She used to work for St John Ambulance and delivered many babies as part of her work. She worked in various care homes looking after the elderly.

“She was just interested in helping others. She really wanted to pursue a career in women’s health.”

Mr Drammeh also talked of his last conversation with her, a few hours before the deadly fire.

He said: “I spoke to her on that Saturday night at about midnight. We joked among ourselves and kept talking about the upcoming trip and about her coming to America.

“We last saw each other in September when we went bowling. It was her first time bowling and we went to the cinema in Beeston. Family was so important to us and spending time together. It was really important to us.”

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Paying tribute to his children, he said of his elder daughter: “She loved Omar & Hana and then she started getting into Peppa Pig.

“She also loved nursery rhymes and when on FaceTime with me she’d make me do the ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes’ song.

“Naeemah also enjoyed TV shows, but her favourite thing was milk. She’d eat a lot of foods like rice but she really enjoyed milk. She started walking a little late but then she became confident and started dragging things around and moving stuff.

“They were both really happy children. They loved spending time with their grandparents and got along really well as siblings.”

On Thursday detectives charged Jamie Barrow, of Fairisle Close, Clifton, with their murders.

The 31-year-old appeared in court yesterday and was remanded into custody.

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