London Bridge attacker wiped knife on beard in ‘chilling gesture’, inquest told
A terrorist washed his knife and wiped it on his beard in a “chilling gesture” after killing eight people at London Bridge and Borough Market, an inquest has heard.
Khuram Butt, 27, was caught on CCTV cameras cleaning his 12in pink ceramic knife inside Black and Blue restaurant while Youssef Zaghba, 22, took a drink from the tap behind the bar.
Jonathan Hough QC, counsel for the coroner, had warned the families of the victims in court that “distressing images” would be shown, and Butt’s reaction was “the most chilling”.
There were shocked gasps in court one of the Old Bailey as the inquest was shown footage of diner Roy Larner, dubbed the Lion of London Bridge, being savagely stabbed in the stomach.
Mr Larner appeared not to react as the knife was plunged into him twice in quick succession before he stood up and ran away.
Earlier, the third attacker, Rachid Redouane, 30, was shown on CCTV bending down to tie his shoelaces in the street during the rampage through Borough Market.
In another extract from CCTV, Redouane was seen talking to an unidentified man, and then walking away without attacking him for an unknown reason.
Mr Hough said: “There is clearly some form of discussions. We don’t know what was said. Despite appeals for witnesses he never came forward.”
In the space of three minutes, the attackers had struck Xavier Thomas, 45, and Christine Archibald, 30, with a van on the bridge then fatally stabbed Alexandre Pigeard, 26, Sara Zelenak, 21, Kirsty Boden, 28, Sebastien Belanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39, around Borough Market.
Within 10 minutes, the attackers, who injured 48 more people, had been shot dead by police marksmen.
In the CCTV, pedestrians were seen running for their lives as the terrorists’ van mounted the pavement on the bridge.
People were struck and thrown in the air as the van took an erratic course, before crashing into railings.
Mobile phone video captured the panic and terror among the Saturday night revellers when confronted by the knifemen shouting “Allahu Akbar”.
Erick Siguenza, who filmed the footage, was heard to exclaim: “That’s terrorists. That’s mad,” over screams and shouts in the background.
Other members of the public appeared to stand up to the attackers, with one throwing a chair at Butt outside another restaurant.
The last victim, Mr Echeverria, was seen in footage swinging his skateboard at the knife-waving attackers as he ran in to help two unarmed officers.
Mr Echeverria had been cycling with two friends when he came across unarmed police constables Wayne Marques and Charlie Guenigault.
The HSBC financial crime analyst ran across to help and swung his board at one of the terrorists but was knocked to the ground by Redouane, the inquest was told.
Detective Superintendent Rebecca Riggs said: “Ignacio got off his bike and ran across to where the two officers were to assist the two officers.
“He had taken his board from his rucksack and swung at the attackers and managed to hit them. Redouane retaliated, causing him to fall on the ground. The attackers then set upon him on the ground.”
Mr Hough said: “It was a brief but furious assault.”
The onslaught came to an end when the attackers, wearing mock suicide belts, were shot by City of London Police marksmen.
Neil McLelland, who was looking out of the window of the nearby Wheatsheaf pub, was hit in the head by a bullet and fell to the ground, while five other people were injured by shrapnel.
Other armed officers arrived on the scene but withdrew believing the attackers were wearing improvised explosive devices, Det Supt Riggs told the inquest.
She added: “They could see that the attackers were still moving. They believed they were going to activate the explosive devices they were wearing and they fired a number of shots.”
Mr Hough said the officers then put “themselves in harm’s way” to evacuate the pub, taking Mr McLelland, who survived his injuries, and others to safety.