Inquest begins into deaths of London Bridge terror attack victims

The victims, clockwise from top left: Christine Archibald, 30, Kirsty Boden; 28, Sara Zelenak, 21, S

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 POLICE - Credit: Archant

An inquest into the deaths of eight people killed in the London Bridge terror attack is due to begin at the Old Bailey today (Tuesday).

Left to right: Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba. Picture: MET POLICE

Left to right: Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba. Picture: MET POLICE - Credit: Archant

The eight week inquiry into the deaths of the victims - three women and five men - will precede a spearate hearing into the deaths of their killers.

Christine Archibald, 30, Xavier Thomas, 45, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, Sara Zelenak, 21, Kirsty Boden, 28, Sebastien Belanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39, were all killed when three men drove a van into the crowd before stabbing people on June 3, 2017.

Their attackers, Khuram Butt, 27 and Rachid Redouane, 30, both from Barking, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, from Ilford, were shot dead by police at the scene.

In the coming weeks, the court will hear from witnesses, the family and friends of the attackers, and a senior MI5 officer.

Other evidence is expected to include CCTV footage of the attacks and the terrorists’ movements, body-worn video from police officers and footage from members of the public caught up in the carnage.

Chief coroner Mark Lucraft QC will deliver a short opening speech before hearing “pen portraits” of the victims from their loved ones.

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The attack came just three months after 52-year-old Khalid Masood mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in a hired car before stabbing a police officer to death.

The inquest is expected to examine why there were still no barriers to protect pedestrians on London Bridge by June 3.

Families will also want answers to the question of how Butt was able to plan and carry out the attack while he was under investigation by security services.

Another issue likely to be raised by lawyers acting for the relatives of the victims is the lack of security checks required to hire rental vehicles after cars and lorries were used as weapons in Nice, Berlin and Westminster Bridge.

The court will not sit on the second anniversary of the atrocity next month.

Who were the victims?

Canadian Christine Archibald, 30, who lived in The Hague, Holland, died in her fiance Tyler Ferguson’s arms after being struck by the van on London Bridge.

James McMullan, 32, from Brent, north-west London, was stabbed in the chest in Borough Market. He was found lying outside the post office on Borough High Street.

French national Alexandre Pigeard, 26, was knifed in the Boro Bistro where he worked as a waiter. He was found in the shadow of Southwark Cathedral, on Montague Close, with stab wounds to his neck and chest. Mr Pigeard was born in Paris - he had been in London for around two years and lived in Southwark.

-Chef Sebastien Belanger, 36, was drinking at the nearby Boro Bistro when he was stabbed repeatedly in the chest. Originally from Angers, western France, Mr Belanger had lived in London for several years.

Australian nurse Kirsty Boden, 28, from Loxton, ran towards the danger in a selfless bid to save people. She was also found on Montague Close, with a stab wound to her chest.

Australian Sara Zelenak, 21, from Brisbane, was stabbed after becoming separated from her friend. The au pair was found in Borough High Street.

Spanish banker Ignacio Echeverria, 39, who worked in Canary Wharf, was killed after trying to defend a woman with his skateboard.

The body of Xavier Thomas, 45, was recovered from the river near Limehouse three days after the attack. The Frenchman had been visiting London for the weekend with his girlfriend, Christine Delcros, who was struck and seriously injured in the attack.