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London Bridge inquest: Entrepreneur killed as he tried to help fellow victim who had fallen over

PUBLISHED: 13:24 13 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:24 13 May 2019

James McMullan. Picture: Met Police

James McMullan. Picture: Met Police

Met Police

The youngest victim of the London Bridge terror attack fell over in her high heels and was being helped up by a Good Samaritan when they were both fatally stabbed, an inquest heard.

The victims, clockwise from top left: Christine Archibald, 30, Kirsty Boden; 28, Sara Zelenak, 21, Sebastien Belanger, 36, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, James McMullan, 32, Ignacio Echeverría Miralles de Imperial, 39, and Xavier Thomas, 45. Picture: MET POLICEThe victims, clockwise from top left: Christine Archibald, 30, Kirsty Boden; 28, Sara Zelenak, 21, Sebastien Belanger, 36, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, James McMullan, 32, Ignacio Echeverría Miralles de Imperial, 39, and Xavier Thomas, 45. Picture: MET POLICE

Australian au pair Sara Zelenak, 21, was out with her friend Priscila Goncalves on the evening of June 3, 2017.

When the terrorists' hire van crashed into bridge railings, they went to have a look before there were shouts of "run", the court heard.

But Ms Zelenak appeared to lose her balance and fell over on the wet pavement, the Old Bailey heard.

Entrepreneur James McMullan, 32, from Brent, is believed to have tried to help her up before they were both set upon by attackers armed with 12in blades.

Erick Siguenza filmed terrified people screaming and running away as the pair were stabbed.

He told the court: "As soon as the van crashed they stepped out and the driver stabbed the woman that had jumped out to get out of the way of the van crashing. That's when they started stabbing her. I believe there was a gentleman trying to help her get up and he was stabbed as well.

"As I was recording there was a lot of screaming and just people realising what was going on and just shouting in general."

Gareth Patterson QC, representing the victims' families, said: "We know Sara Zelenak was found within minutes at the top of the steps and we know the young white woman with long hair had stab injuries.

"We also know she was wearing high heels and on the ground it was quite wet that night.

"From what you saw of this man helping her, did you get the impression she lost her balance?"

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The witness said: "Yes. She was completely on the ground. He just grabbed her left arm and gently tried to pick her up but by then the attackers were in close proximity and that's when they started attacking.

"There was no time for him to be able to help her up because the driver and the other terrorists were already running towards them."

Ms Zelenak was stabbed more than once and her helper, Mr McMullan, the only British victim, suffered a wound to his chest.

The Old Bailey heard how Ms Zelenak and Ms Goncalves had set out to have a drink around London Bridge but got lost and ended up at the London Grind.

The inquest was shown CCTV of Ms Zelenak in blue jeans, white shirt, leather jacket and black high heels.

The women left the bar just before the terrorists ploughed into pedestrians on the bridge and crashed into railings.

Ms Goncalves is then seen on CCTV among a crowd running away without her friend.

Mr Patterson QC, suggested that Ms Zelenak's high heels coupled with wet weather might have caused her to suffer an ankle injury.

He said: "Maybe those two factors contributed to make her less stable than she might otherwise have been when this sudden attack came on her."

Det Con Alastair Hutchison said: "Yes, that's a possibility."

Ms Zelenak and Mr McMullan were among eight people killed when Khuram Butt, 27 and Rachid Redouane, 30, both from Barking, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, from Ilford, launched their van and knife rampage on London Bridge and in Borough Market.

Xavier Thomas, 45, Christine Archibald, 30, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, Kirsty Boden, 28, Sebastien Belanger, 36, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39, also died before their attackers were shot dead by armed police.

The inquest continues.

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