Tube 'pusher' trial: 91-year-old man sent 'flying' onto train tracks, court hears

'As I was walking along the platform I felt a two-handed push to my back. I felt myself flying over the tracks and landing on the rails'

Chris Baynes
Tuesday 02 October 2018 16:32 BST
Sir Robert Malpas, 91, pushed onto the London Underground tracks
Sir Robert Malpas, 91, pushed onto the London Underground tracks (Getty)

A former Eurotunnel boss has told how he went "flying" onto Tube tracks after being pushed off the platform by a stranger in an alleged murder attempt.

CCTV footage played at the Old Bailey showed the moment Sir Robert Malpas, 91, was allegedly sent sprawling onto the rails at Marble Arch station by 46-year-old Paul Crossley.

He was rescued by a passer-by, Riyad El-Hussani, who jumped onto the tracks and helped to pull him back onto the platform.

Sir Robert suffered a fractured pelvis and a gash to the head that required 12 stitches following the incident on 27 April.

In a statement read to jurors in court, Sir Robert said he had been to a pensioners' lunch in central London before using his freedom pass for his planned journey to Oxford Circus on the Central line.

"As I was walking along the platform I felt a two-handed push to my back," said Sir Robert. "I felt myself flying over the tracks and landing on the rails.

"I may have been concussed but only for a very short time. I banged my head on the rails."

Sir Robert, who was knighted by the Queen in 1998 for his services to engineering, said he saw and heard nothing of his attacker.

"I have absolutely no idea why anyone I know would do this or indeed any other individual," he added.

After landing on the tracks, he said he "became aware of a male to [his] right".

"The male lifted me by my upper body. I was then moved up to the platform for others to help me," he recalled.

Robert Malpas, bottom right, pictured in 1997 when he was Eurotunnel's co-chairman
Robert Malpas, bottom right, pictured in 1997 when he was Eurotunnel's co-chairman

His rescuer, Mr El-Hussani, was a French teacher who had just finished work at the Dorchester Hotel in Mayfair.

The 24-year-old told the court he heard "screams and shouting" before running 20 metres to where Sir Robert lay with his clothes and umbrella covered in blood.

"I saw lots of people standing around and it looked like they wanted to help him," Mr El-Hussani added. "I then heard people shouting, 'get up' and 'get out'.

"I then jumped straight on to the tracks to save his life. My hands stopped my fall on the tracks. I then grabbed the male.

"People were screaming at me to get up. I then looked over my left shoulder and could see and hear a train. The danger then kicked in.

"I grabbed the male and pushed him up to the right before the platform. I then felt people's hands on me and him."

Mr El-Hussani was left with a burn on his right hand from touching the electrified track.

"I'm still in shock with what's happened. I also feel sad as I could have lost my life twice," he added.

"I was scared that when I was on the tracks I could have been electrocuted and also could have then been hit by a train."

Another man, Tobias French, told of his own lucky escape after allegedly being pushed by Mr Crossley as he waited for a train at Tottenham Court Road station earlier the same day.

He said: "I heard the sound of quick footsteps behind me. I then felt two hands behind on my upper back and then an aggressive push towards the Tube tracks when the Tube was no more than 10 metres away."

The shove made him stagger forward, but he regained his balance, only to turn around and be pushed again to the upper body, the court heard.

Mr French prevented himself from falling onto platform, while Mr Crossley was pulled to the ground by another passenger, jurors were told.

He said his alleged attacker "curled into a ball" by putting his hands around his head, while Mr French asked him: "What the f***."

Witnesses described seeing a scuffle and hearing the "whoosh of the train" and the "trundle of the platform" as the Tube train pulled into the station.

"At the time of the incident I didn't think I was going to die," said Mr French. "It all happened so quickly, I didn't have time to think like that.

"I was just concerned with defending myself and keeping myself from being pushed into the tracks."

Mr French said he started to reflect on what could have happened after speaking to other passengers.

"I remember thinking I was very lucky to be alive," he said. "There was a train coming in my direction at the time and if I had been pushed in front of it, I'm certain I would have been killed.

"I was fortunate I was quick to defend myself along with help from a member of the public."

Mr Crossley, from east London, denies two charges of attempted murder and an alternative count of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to Mr French.

He has pleaded guilty to a wounding charge in relation to the attack on Sir Robert.

Mr Crossley is said to have told members of the public who detained him: "It's not right, I know it's wrong."

He told police "I didn't get much sleep last night" when officers arrived, jurors heard.

The trial continues.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in