Eight people were murdered in a three-minute rampage by the London Bridge terrorists, an inquest heard.
Another 48 were injured before police shot dead the three killers to bring their summer night bloodbath to an end.
Among the victims were a young woman who had kissed her fiance and told him “I love you” seconds earlier and a brave nurse who was stabbed as she tried to save another person's life.
The mayhem began when Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba drove their van into pedestrians on the bridge in June 2017, before jumping out and slashing others at random.
Det Supt Rebecca Riggs told the Old Bailey inquest: “All the fatal injuries were inflicted in the first three minutes.”
Chief Coroner Mark Lucraft QC said: “The lives of many people were torn apart by what took place in less than 10 minutes of high and terrible drama.”
Detective Superintendent Rebecca Riggs added: “All the fatal injuries were inflicted in the first three minutes.”
Among the victims was a young woman who kissed her fiance and told him “I love you” seconds earlier and a nurse stabbed as she tried to save another person’s life.
Chilling images showed the terrorists ploughing into pedestrians before stabbing scores of people.
Some family members left court before the graphic stills were shown while one walked out in distress during the evidence.
The first victim was Frenchman and devoted dad-of-two Xavier Thomas.
Christine Archibald, James McMullan, Sara Zelenak, Ignacio Echeverria, Alexandre Pigeard, Kirsty Boden and Sebastien Belanger were the others killed. The inquest continues tomorrow.
Pakistan-born Butt, 27, Redouane, 30, and 22-year-old Zaghba – both from Morocco – drove their Renault van onto packed London Bridge at 10.06pm on June 3, 2017, ploughing into pedestrians at speeds of up to 34mph.
They continued their rampage on foot, stabbing four people in Green Dragon Court near Borough Market. The trio were shot dead by police at 10.16pm, 10 minutes after the start of the rampage.
Three months earlier, Khalid Masood mowed down pedestrians on nearby Westminster Bridge before stabbing a police officer to death.
The inquest, which continues today, will hear why there were still no barriers to protect pedestrians on London Bridge.
Earlier, Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, head of counter-terrorism policing Neil Basu and City of London Police Commissioner Ian Dyson joined relatives of the dead in a minute’s silence.
A separate inquest will be held into the deaths of Butt, Redouane and Zaghba.
Sara Zelenak, 21
Australian au pair Sara was on the “trip of a lifetime” when she was stabbed multiple times.
She was killed during a night out with a friend.
Her mother, Julie Wallace, who was supported by Ms Zelenak’s stepfather, Mark Wallace, said her daughter had arrived in the UK three months before the attack.
Sara had worked as a crane truck operator in Brisbane to save up for the holiday.
She would wear high-visibility clothing and a hard hat, teamed with “bright coloured red fingernails”.
Speaking of the loss, her mother said: “Sara was the happiest she had ever been working, travelling, meeting new people, doing all the things that a 21-year-old should do.
“That was until June 3, 2017 when our lives changed forever."
Mrs Wallace told the inquest of a tragic twist of fate, saying: “On that fatal night, every sliding door slid for Sara to be in harm’s way.
“She was meant to be working and at the last minute she got the night off.”
Christine Archibald, 30
Canadian Christine Archibald told her fiance that she loved him moments before she was dragged under the wheels of the van on London Bridge.
The social worker was on a short trip to the capital to see her fiance, Tyler Ferguson, who was in the UK for work.
The couple had been out for a “celebratory” dinner after he had a particularly successful day, when the van hit them from behind.
Tyler said: “We decided to walk over London Bridge. At one point, Chrissy stopped me out of nowhere, gave me a passionate kiss and told me she loved me. Then the attack happened and Chrissy was killed.”
Christine died of multiple injuries in Tyler’s arms, after being dragged along the road before hitting the central reservation and being run over.
Tyler described his partner as “my everything” and said that she was “the most caring human being that I have ever met”.
James McMullan, 32
Entrepreneur James had been out celebrating getting financial backing for his online education company.
The dual British/Filipino citizen from Brent, North West London, was watching the Champions League final with pals at the Barrowboy and Banker pub when he left to have a cigarette and was stabbed in the chest.
James’s dad, Simon, described him as “funny, charming and clever” and said “his fearlessness could never be underestimated”.
He added: “He was James McMullan – a friend, a son, an uncle, a brother, an inspiration and a maddening genius, a brilliant and beautiful paradox.”
Sister Melissa said: “While our pain will never diminish, it is important for us to all carry on with our lives in direct opposition to those who are trying to destroy us.”
Ignacio Echeverria, 39
Spaniard Ignacio was stabbed to death as he “courageously” tried to fight off the terrorist attackers with his skateboard.
He had been in the UK for a year at the time of his death and was working as a financial crime analyst at HSBC.
Ignacio joined unarmed PC Wayne Marques and an off-duty PC Charlie Guenigault in fighting off the attackers as they set upon Marie Bondeville, hitting at least one terrorist with his skateboard.
“His courageous efforts were to seek to stop the attack,” Chief Coroner Mark Lucraft said.
Ignacio was the youngest of five siblings and was a Catholic who went to Mass every week.
The hearing heard: “For all his life he enjoyed the company of all of his family.”
Alexandre Pigeard, 26
The Frenchman’s father said he had lived the 703 days since Alexandre’s death living as “a ghost”, and described the “horror and barbarism of the assassins”.
Philippe Pigeard said his musician son was “at the height of his youth, of his energy, of his enthusiasm” and was “obviously happy” when he was killed.
Alexandre moved to the English capital to work in a restaurant. A video montage was played to the inquest into his death, including pictures of him smiling on a sunny London street hours before his death.
On the night he died, he video-called his father during a break from work at the Boro Bistro.
Philippe said: “I’m here as a devastated father who has lost a child in such circumstances.
An inconsolable father.”
Xavier Thomas, 45
The attack’s first victim was on the phone to his 17-year-old son in France when he was hit from behind by the van.
He was thrown into the River Thames and his body was not found for three days.
His partner of two years Christine Delcros, who was seriously injured, wept as she said: “Since Xavier disappeared in such tragic and traumatic circumstances our whole world has fallen apart.”
The dad of two, who lived near Paris and worked for American Express, came to London on the day of the attack.
His parents said in a statement: “Barbarians who can in no way be described as humans took his life and destroyed his family.
“His children have lost everything upon which their lives are based and it’s very difficult to recover from that.”
Sebastien Belanger, 36
French chef Sebastien Belanger courageously fought the knifemen before being cornered and stabbed in the neck and chest.
The Old Bailey heard how Sebastien, who was “full of mischief” as a child, decided to move to London to join friends in 2009.
Originally from Angers, western France, he was drinking at the Boro Bistro when he was murdered.
The court heard that Sebastien had “bravely fought back” before he was killed by “quite horrific injuries”.
His mother, Josiane Belanger, told the inquest: “We miss him so much – his smile, his joie de vivre. I do not forgive what they did to him. They mutilated and killed him.”
His brother, Julien, described him as “a breath of fresh air”, and said “his eyes were full of dreams”.
Kirstyn Boden, 28
Kirsty, a senior nurse, was killed as she rushed to the aid of Sebastien Belanger.
The coroner said she was on a night out with friends at the Boro Bistro and leapt up at once to help when she heard the sound of the van crashing.
Her partner James Hodder said he was “completely floored” by her bravery but she “loved her life helping others”. He added: “Her actions on that night didn’t surprise
anyone who knew her. We are so unspeakably proud of her and not a day goes by that we are not in awe of her bravery that night.”
Kirsty came from a small town in South Australia in 2013 to work at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital close to the scene.
Her father Ken told the hearing: “We miss Kirsty every second of the day. There is a hole in our hearts that will never heal.”
Source: Read Full Article