Although he was not driving, the 27- year-old with Tanzanian papers was still asked for proof of his identity. He tendered his provisional driving licence.
A call was put through to the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB), which confirmed that he was on a deportation order and had been for some time.
He was taken to a Garda station and then to Cloverhill prison. It was early March, 2014. He managed to make contact with a good friend, Suleiman, with whom he had spent a lot of time in Dublin over the previous year.
He was, Suleiman remembers, “the only African in that division of the prison” during the three weeks of his detention. One of their last conversations was by phone on April 4th, 2014, when Mohamed had been deported to Tanzania, and was at an airport near Mount Kilimanjaro awaiting a flight to Dar Es Salaam.
It was a hasty call, lasting no more than a minute. Mohamed told Suleiman the authorities “wouldn’t accept him”.
He sounded “very stressed”, his friend says. Within a week, Mohamed would be dead.
No functioning government “He was born in Somalia, like myself, and for us, it’s very difficult to travel,”Suleiman explains. “When you have no functioning government, you don’t have papers and so you have to try and get a Tanzanian passport.”
The two young men met first in Sligo when Suleiman was visiting friends. Mohamed had travelled initially to Britain, and then to Ireland in 2007. Like Suleiman, he had no immediate family, making his way here alone – like many who, either for economic or political reasons such as a failed asylum application, believed Ireland to be a more welcoming option.
“We kept in touch,”Suleiman says. “I knew him the way I know myself.”
Mohamed, who had a girlfriend in Sligo, was passionate about sport , but Suleiman was the more active soccer player. Suleiman remembers he “dreamed of becoming an engineer”.
Latterly, Mohamed was transferred from Sligo to direct provision centre in Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo.
“He would joke in Swahili, and was a great guy for Play Station 2,”a Tanzanian friend from the Ballyhaunis centre told The Irish Times. “ He was so good that he played it as if he was one of its inventors”.
“He was very interested in soccer, knew all of the British football clubs, and could talk as if he was one of the managers. He was really informed about the English premier league,” the friend, who is still awaiting the outcome of his own asylum application, said.
All that changed when Mohamed’s asylum application failed, and he was issued with a deportation order. It stipulated that he was required to report regularly to the GNIB, pending his flight home.
“He decided not to do that,”Suleiman says. “So that’s when he came to live with me in Dublin.”
He was in Cloverhill
“Mohamed was with one of my other friends when they were stopped in the car,” Suleiman recalls. “He was able to phone me. He told me he was in Cloverhill.
“ He seemed normal when I visited, but didn’t accept being taken to prison. He asked me to send documents to a solicitor, which I did.”
Mohamed seemed confident that if the full evidence, including a birth cert stating his Somali birthplace, was presented, he would be released and allowed to continue with his asylum efforts. His confidence was short-lived.
At about 4am on Wednesday, April 2nd, Suleiman got a phone call.
It was Mohamed: he told his friend he was being taken to Dublin airport. He also called the solicitor with whom he had brief dealings after his arrest. The arrest warrant appeared to be in order, and at this stage there was little or nothing to be done.