London Bridge attack inquest: Nurse asked terrorist ‘what’s wrong with you?’ before being stabbed in the neck

Helen Kennett was trying to help victim Alexandre Pigeard, who told her to run before dying of his injuries

Lizzie Dearden
Security Correspondent
Thursday 16 May 2019 20:12
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London Bridge attack: Court shown footage of van moments before mounting pavement

A nurse who survived the London Bridge attack has told how she asked one of the terrorists, “What’s wrong with you?” before he stabbed her in the neck.

Helen Kennett was trying to help one of the eight victims killed in the knife and van rampage when she looked up to see the attacker’s “soulless, evil, empty eyes”.

She told the Old Bailey she tried to help waiter Alexandre Pigeard after he was fatally stabbed outside Boro Bistro – a restaurant near London Bridge where she had been enjoying the evening with her mother and sister.

Ms Kennett said she offered to help his heavily bleeding neck wound, but he just shook his head and told her: “No, just run.”

Instead she confronted his attacker, saying: “What’s wrong with you?”

The terrorist replied: “No, what’s wrong with you?” then plunged a 12in blade into her neck, the Old Bailey heard.

Ms Kennett was one of 48 victims who survived their injuries in the June 2017 attack, which was claimed by Isis.

She told the inquest examining how the atrocity unfolded that she heard the terrorists crash their hired van after mowing down pedestrians on London Bridge, but initially thought it was an accident.

Ms Kennett said decided to investigate because she was a nurse and could help any casualties.

“Everybody was standing up and getting more and more shouting and upset,” she added.

“I glanced to my right, which was towards where the steps are coming down, and I saw a man who was very, very injured.

“There was just a lot of blood and then, as I got closer, I saw there was a cut right across the neck. It looked like there was multiple injuries on the body but my attention was the neck.

“I looked at him and thought, ‘That’s not a car accident, that’s something more.’ It happened so quickly and I thought, ‘He’s been attacked by a knife,’ and then I saw the knife.”

The court heard she told Mr Pigeard: “Oh my god, you’re bleeding. Let me help, I’m a nurse.”

Alexandre Pigeard was one of three French victims killed in the attack

The 26-year-old – who was himself stabbed after rushing to help – looked at her, shaking his head and frightened, and replied: “No, just run.“

Ms Kennett said: “I looked up to the attacker. I did exchange words with him. I said, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ He said, ‘No, what’s wrong with you?’

“Before I could process what I was seeing was happening to the man, he stabbed me in the neck to the left side.”

Asked to describe the attacker, she said: “I just remember his eyes. They were soulless. Evil. They were empty.”

Ms Kennett went on: “The only way I can describe it was like somebody had thrown a bucket of warm water over me. I felt this rushing all down my body and I thought, ‘Oh no, I’ve been stabbed as well.’”

Her next thought was for her family as they edged around the corner while two more men began to attack others in her peripheral vision, the court heard.

“Two guys had jumped over the bushes and they were attacking people. Everybody was shouting. Everybody was screaming. I thought at that point, ‘I cannot help anybody, I’m going to die.’

“I did not want to die there. I wanted to die around the corner with my family … I remember falling to the floor because I was slipping in my own blood.”

Ms Kennett made it back to her sister and mother and tried to hide the extent of her injury as they escaped to the Mudlark pub, near where another nurse – Kirsty Boden – collapsed and died of her wounds.

The inquests previously heard how the attackers – Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba – murdered two people with a van on London Bridge before crashing it outside a pub.

Eight people in total lost their lives during the attack in June 2017

Armed with 12in kitchen knives, they ran down stone steps into a courtyard where Boro Bistro is situated, stabbing anyone within reach as they went.

They moved back up to Borough High Street and down towards the market, targeting drinkers and staff at bars, restaurants and pubs, and in the street.

The Old Bailey has heard how victims tried to fight the attackers even after they were stabbed, as members of the public pelted them with chairs, bottles and crates.

But the atrocity was only brought to an end when armed police shot the three terrorists dead, after 10 minutes of bloodshed that left eight victims dead.

The court heard that Canadian social worker Christine Archibald, 30, had kissed her husband-to-be and told him “I love you” moments before being killed by the van.

Xavier Thomas, 45, was on the phone to his son as he walked across the River Thames on holiday with his girlfriend when he was hit by the terrorists’ vehicle.

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Ignacio Echeverria, a financial crime analyst from Spain, was stabbed after beating the terrorists with a skateboard after seeing them attacking a woman on the ground.

French chef Sebastien Belanger, 36, had been drinking at the same restaurant and was cornered by all three of the attackers but “bravely fought back” as he was stabbed to death.

Australian au pair Sara Zelenak was on a “trip of a lifetime” when she was knifed to death while on a night out with a friend nearby, her family said.

And dual British-Filipino national James McMullan, 32, had been watching football at a pub when he went outside for a cigarette and was caught in the attack.

The attackers’ deaths will be examined before a jury, in separate inquests coming after an estimated eight weeks of hearings for their victims.

Additional reporting by PA

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