Firefighter confronted 'Tube bomber' after helping mother to safety
A firefighter has described the moment in July 2005 when an alleged would-be suicide bomber tried to set off a rucksack bomb next to a mother and child on a crowded Tube train.
Angus Campbell, 43, told Woolwich Crown Court yesterday that he heard a loud explosion and was at first "cowed" by the blast, but then helped the mother and child to escape to an adjoining carriage before returning, hitting the train's emergency stop button and attempting to confront the alleged bomber. "I was shouting: 'What have you done, what have you done?'," he told the jury. "I shouted at him: 'You are scaring us.'"
Ramzi Mohammed, the alleged bomber, with smoke pouring from his clothes, was "screaming and shouting" and would only reply, "This is wrong, this is wrong", the court was told.
The mother, Nadia Baro, later told the court: "I thought we were going to die."
Mr Campbell and Ms Baro were among a number of witnesses who gave dramatic accounts yesterday of the moments after the device was detonated on a northbound Northern line train on 21 July 2005, near Oval station in south London. Others described their desperate attempts to stop Mr Mohammed, as he sprinted away.
Mr Mohammed, 25, from North Kensington, west London, is said to have been part of an "extremist Muslim plot" to attack the capital's transport system, two weeks after the July 7 bombings which killed 52 people.
He is one of six men who deny charges of conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause explosions. The other defendants are Muktar Said Ibrahim, 28, of Stoke Newington, north London; Manfo Kwaku Asiedu, 33, of no fixed address; Yassin Omar, 26, from New Southgate, north London; Hussain Osman, 28, of Stockwell, south London; and Adel Yahya, 24, of Tottenham, north London.
The court has already heard that home-made devices on three Tube trains and a bus detonated but failed to explode completely. A fifth device was dumped on parkland.
Mr Campbell, a firefighter for 21 years, was on his way to work as an instructor on 21 July. As the jury watched CCTV images of the carriage, he relived the minutes after the explosion. He said: "My first memory was being cowed. I was crouched in my seat. I remember my arm being over my head. I looked up through my arm - the first thing I remember seeing is Mr Mohammed, who was screaming and shouting, and there was smoke issuing from behind him."
He said Ms Baro had been screaming and there was smoke in the carriage. He helped her and her child to escape before returning to remonstrate with Mr Mohammed, unsure of whether he was in pain, and began "swearing vociferously" at him because "I was scared".
Mr Campbell asked Mr Mohammed what the sponge-like mass was on the floor of the carriage. "He said, 'This is bread'. It was nonsensical." As the train neared the station, Mr Campbell told Mr Mohammed that he wanted to help him, but wanted him to lie down on the floor "to be submissive to me". Mr Mohammed became increasingly agitated as the train neared Oval station, eventually fleeing the moment the doors opened.
Ms Baro said she heard the bang and saw Mr Mohammed standing next to her, with a rucksack on. "I just realised that something was going on because of what happened on 7 July. I was in panic and I tried to get away from him."
She said she saw a substance seeping from the rucksack that was like sponge or foam with "bits of nails on it". She added: "I was in such a panic. I did not know how a bomb works. I just thought: 'We are going to die now'." When the train reached the station, people were panicking. "Everyone was trying to get out of the platform because we still thought that the bomb could explode," said Ms Baro.
On the platform, George Brawley, a retired engineer, who had heard a loud bang in the adjoining carriage, tried to find out what was going on but everyone was too "shocked" to talk. "I thought it was inconceivable there could be another attack so soon after 7 July," he said. He then heard cries of "Stop him! Stop that man!" He went on: "A black man came running up the platform like Linford Christie. I felt I was morally obliged to try to intercept him. I grabbed him by his forearms. But he broke free easily. I did my best but he was too slippery." CCTV images allegedly showed him chasing Mr Mohammed . "I knew I could not catch him," he said. "He was running up it like an athlete."
Other passengers also gave chase, one trying to trip him up. Another was Arthur Burton-Garbett, 72, who said: "He just shot out and started to scythe his way through a lot of people. He was about nine to 10 steps ahead of me but about halfway up I started to run out of steam. I realised that he was gaining and that I couldn't catch up."
At the top, Mr Mohammed was allegedly challenged by a member of the station staff before being chased by Ralph James, the owner of a florist's stall. He saw a man running up the down escalator and heard cries of: "Stop him! Stop him!" He told the jury: "The next thing I knew, he was the other side of the barriers running out the station and that's when I decided to follow him out the station to see which way he was going." The man crossed the road, ran around a church and he lost sight of him, he said.
The trial continues.
Witness Angus Campbell: 'Smoke was coming from his back'
Angus Campbell was sitting in the carriage on the northbound Tube train, watching a woman opposite struggling with her child. He said:
"There was an explosion. It was loud. My first memory was being cowed. I was crouched in my seat. I remember my arm being over my head. The first thing I remember seeing is Mr Mohammed, screaming and shouting, and there was smoke issuing from behind him, from his back and I think to the floor.
"I wanted to run away. The woman opposite me was screaming. There was an awful lot of smoke. I wanted to run away but I could not leave her, she was a woman with a small child, she was having problems moving the buggy. At this point I think I was shouting at him. I think I was shouting: 'What have you done? what have you done?'
"I thought he was in pain, I thought he was a victim. He said: 'This is wrong, this is wrong.'"
At one stage he pointed to the remains of the bomb on the floor and said: "This is bread."
"I was probably being quite vociferous, I was probably swearing, I shouted at him: 'You are scaring us, I want to help you, I can help you, but I want you to lie down,' because I needed him to be submissive."
As the train pulled into Oval station, Mr Mohammed became increasingly agitated. When the doors opened Mr Mohammed fled the carriage. "As he went past me, he waved his hand as a fending-off gesture - perhaps I could have intercepted him."
Witness Arthur Burton-Garbett: 'I thought: that's a detonator'
Arthur Burton-Garbett, 72, an antiquarian bookseller, told the jury he heard what sounded like a pistol shot in the adjoining carriage and smelt what he believed was cordite, which he recognised from his time in the Army.
"I looked through the connecting window and I could see people moving off their seats. I thought immediately: that's a detonator."
He saw Mr Mohammed in the second carriage and saw him with his face up against the doors. "The train stopped right opposite the exit. He shot out and scythed his way through a lot of people. I got out the carriage and chased him. I shouted: 'Stop that man, get the police,' two or three times. He went up like an express train. I tore after him but he was about nine to 10 stairs ahead of me.
"Halfway up I sort of ran out of steam. I realised then I couldn't catch him. At that point I saw a male and female railway official at the top of the stairs. I shouted: 'Stop that man and get the police.'
"He was going so fast he just fled past them and when I got to the top of the stairs he was nowhere to be seen."
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