Solicitor's 'zest for life' snuffed out by bomber

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The Independent Online

Talented solicitor Fiona Stevenson had a "wonderful zest for life" but this was snuffed out by suicide bomber Shehzad Tanweer who targeted the Tube train she took to work each morning.

The inquests into the deaths of the people killed in the July 7 blasts heard how the popular solicitor died just two weeks after buying a new flat in central London.

She last spoke to her family on July 6 - the day before she was killed.

"She was happy and contented, full of optimism for the future and looking forward to coming home a couple of days later, at the weekend," Hugo Keith QC told the inquest.

But there was no response from her mobile when relatives tried to make contact on July 7 and it later transpired she had been killed in the blast.

"The family heard the heart-stopping words from Colin, one of the partners at (her law firm) Reynolds Dawson," the inquest heard.

In a statement read to the court by Mr Keith, her parents said: "She had a wonderful zest for life. As far as she was concerned, life was no dress rehearsal and she was determined to live it to the full."

The 29-year-old, from Little Baddow, in Essex, was described as an out-going individual who enjoyed playing golf, travelling and led a busy social life.

She was "never one to bear a grudge" and "always extended the hand of friendship".

Miss Stevenson had dreamed of becoming a lawyer as a teenager when at school in Chelmsford.

She went on to Sussex University before fulfilling her ambition to practise law, joining specialist criminal law firm Reynolds Dawson.

"She was cherished and respected among colleagues for her professionalism, conscientiousness, care and compassion," Mr Keith told the inquest.

He said her long-term ambition had been to work for the UN.

A survivor of the 7/7 attacks today relived the moment a suicide bomber targeted his Tube train and the horrific scenes that followed the blast.

Michael Henning was just yards from Shehzad Tanweer when he detonated his device on a Circle line train at Aldgate Tube station on July 7 2005.

He told the inquests into the deaths of the 52 victims of the atrocities that he considered himself a "deeply lucky person" after choosing to get on the third carriage instead of the second carriage, where Tanweer was standing.

Describing the blast, he said: "It feels completely real to me now as I speak.

"I can feel the right hand side of my face because I was standing right on to the explosion. I can feel it tense up now, I can feel heat. It's extremely real.

"One moment you had the sense of reality as you know it, your every day Tube travel, and the next, it's all changed.

"I remember the questions in my head - 'what is this? what is this?' - as I'm being twisted and thrown down to the ground and then I realised it was a bomb.

"It's strange the thoughts that go through your mind, but I think it was one of those completely British understatements, 'oh, this isn't good'."

Mr Henning told the inquests he thought he had died until he felt blood on the right side of his face, where he was hit by flying glass.

He said: "Initially I remember being on the ground and it was completely dark, and I remember thinking that I must be dead.

"However, I do recall that I was staring out, like in a cartoon way with eyes out on stalks, just trying to see a sense of something that I could see, but in those initial stages it was too dark.

"That's when I felt the blood and realised that perhaps it was OK."

He then heard screams from seriously injured people in the second carriage.

When he looked to see if he could help, he saw a horrifying sight, the inquests heard.

"I looked through the twisted windows to see the darkness and I could see people moving slowly in pain," he said.

"I don't want to go into too much detail about what I saw because I know the police reports have detailed such things, but it is a very difficult image to hold."

He said the passengers in the wrecked train heard nothing from the driver over the speaker system, although a member of London Underground staff in a high-visibility jacket tried without success to force open the doors.