London Bridge attack inquest: Man pelted 'terrorist cowards' with chairs and bottles

'I started throwing pint glasses and bottles at them - everything that was there,' Gerard Vowls tells court

Lizzie Dearden
Security Correspondent
Wednesday 22 May 2019 01:57
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Footage released of London Bridge victim who used skateboard to fight terrorist

A man pelted the London Bridge attackers with chairs, glasses and bottles while calling them “terrorist cowards” in a desperate attempt to save lives, a court has heard.

Inquests into attack were played CCTV footage showing Gerard Vowls following the three knifemen as they stabbed anyone in reach on 3 June 2017.

He broke down as he told the Old Bailey he saw them attack a young woman as she pleaded for help.

“I heard one of them say, 'this is for Allah',” Mr Vowls said, describing the terrorists as “not human-looking”.

The inquest heard he shouted "you cowards, you c***s. Come and get me" while finding items to throw on Borough High Street.

“I started shouting, 'terrorists'. I was pointing at them, going 'run'. I was just trying to warn as many people as I could,” Mr Vowls recalled.

CCTV images showed him following the attackers, picking up a restaurant chair, and throwing it towards ringleader Khuram Butt.

He said he hoped to get the men away from the people they were attacking and into an area where they could be shot by armed police.

"When I got to the Wheatsheaf pub, there was a couple of barrels outside, pint glasses and bottles,” Mr Vowls said.

"I shouted at them again, 'terrorist cowards,' and just started throwing pint glasses and bottles at them - everything that was there.

"They sort of turned around but because I had a few drinks I was getting near but missing every time."

He then tried to warn people inside the Black and Blue restaurant before gesturing through the glass, but then saw more victims being stabbed including Roy Larner – a Millwall fan who fought the terrorists.

"I thought, 'we need to get the police, there's nothing I can do'," Mr Vowls said, describing how he found two unarmed police officers before hearing gunshots that killed the attackers.

The inquests have heard remarkable tales of bravery from victims and witnesses, including a man who was stabbed to death after beating the terrorists with his skateboard and a nurse murdered as she tried to help an injured man.

 The victims of the London Bridge terrorist attack (top row left to right) Christine Archibald, James McMullan, Alexandre Pigeard, Sebastien Belanger, (bottom row left to right) Kirsty Boden, Sara Zelenak, Xavier Thomas and Ignacio Echeverria

Two unarmed police officers were among injured victims who fought the knifemen, and they were still being pelted with bottles, chairs and bread crates seconds before they were shot dead.

One survivor described how people in one pub “couldn’t fathom what was going on and kept drinking” after he ran inside with a stab wound.

Andrew Morrison, from Australia, was knifed in the face before bursting into the Globe Tavern in Borough Market.

"I knelt down on the floor and asked for help,” he said, describing how strangers sat him on a stool.

"They told me to calm down and that my stab wound wasn't that bad, and another person offered me a beer.”

Mr Morrison, who like many victims had been watching the Champions League final nearby, said he thought the attack was a street fight before hearing police screaming “get running” and “get down”.

"Once I realised there were people and bodies lying on the ground, I knew something was not right,” he added.

He said he was stabbed after coming “face-to-face” with one of the attackers.

A diagram showing the route the London Bridge attackers walked and ran while stabbing people

An American tourist who was stabbed in the back, head and face told the Old Bailey that he first thought he had been barged into by a drunk when he was approached by a terrorist.

“As I pushed him back, I'm looking at him. He started looking back towards me. He had an angry look,” he said.

“When he took a step towards me, I took a step back. That's when I felt something at my left waist and that's when I blacked out.”

In an emotional tribute to those who came to his aid, Mr Piersant singled out a Metropolitan Police officer who “never left his side” and the doctors who saved his life after his heart stopped beating.

Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba were shot dead after charging at armed police while wearing fake suicide vests.

They murdered eight people and injured 48 more in a 10-minute rampage that saw them plough a van into pedestrians on London Bridge, before crashing and launching a stabbing spree using 12ins kitchen knives.

Their victims were Xavier Thomas, 45, Christine Archibald, 30, Sara Zelenak, 21, Sebastien Belanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, Kirsty Boden, 28, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39. The inquest continues.

Additional reporting by PA

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