London Bridge inquest: Barriers ‘would have saved two victims’, court told

PUBLISHED: 12:04 09 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:04 09 May 2019

Xavier Thomas. Picture: Met Police

Xavier Thomas. Picture: Met Police

Met Police

Two victims of the London Bridge terror attack would be alive today if barriers had been put up after a similar atrocity two months before, an inquest has heard.

Christine Archibald and Tyler Ferguson. Picture: Met PoliceChristine Archibald and Tyler Ferguson. Picture: Met Police

Christine Archibald, 30, and Xavier Thomas, 45, were among 10 people struck by a 2.5-ton hire van driven by Youssef Zaghba, 22, on the evening of June 3 2017.

Mr Thomas was catapulted into the Thames and found dead near Limehouse three days later, while Ms Archibald died after being dragged under the wheels of the powerful vehicle.

CCTV showed Ms Archibald's fiance Tyler Ferguson raising an arm as if he was trying to pull her out of harm's way, the Old Bailey heard.

Gareth Patterson, QC, representing some victims, questioned a senior officer about why no barriers were put in place on London Bridge, after a similar attack on Westminster in March 2017.

He said: "There were no barriers in place on that pavement protecting pedestrians from traffic on that road.

"If there had been barriers Christine Archibald and Xavier Thomas would now be with us today."

Senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Rebecca Riggs agreed, saying: "That may well be the case."

The court heard barriers were put up on the bridge within two days of the attack.

The van, which mowed down pedestrians on the pavement, had been hired from Hertz by Khuram Butt, 27, from Barking, even though he had been under investigation for some time by MI5 and counter-terrorism police.

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Mr Patterson questioned how it was Butt was able to hire such a powerful vehicle, having earlier failed to secure a 7-ton lorry for the attack.

He said: "If he had been able to get his hands on a bigger vehicle the injuries to those who survived would have been greater."

Despite questions being raised after the Westminster Bridge attack, "there was not a single additional obstacle placed in the path of any terrorist trying to get their hands, yet again, on a rental vehicle", the lawyer said.

Butt spent just an hour on the phone to rent the Hertz van, despite the counter-terror investigation, Mr Patterson said.

Det Supt Riggs said: "Yes, that's correct."

Mr Patterson said there had been other attacks using rented vehicles in Nice, Barcelona, Canada and New York.

And al Qaida and Islamic State terrorist magazines had recommended the tactic for causing "maximum" carnage.

Mr Patterson said Chief Coroner Mark Lucraft QC had recommended the Department for Transport see what could be done to limit access to these vehicles in the wake of the Westminster Bridge inquest last year.

But he said: "Nothing of any substance to this day is in place that provides a real obstacle for getting your hands on a vehicle like that if you wanted to use it in a terrorist attack."

Det Supt Riggs said she was not the best person to comment on that.

The inquest continues.

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