Girlfriend of London Bridge Victim ‘Had Premonition of Terror Attack’
The girlfriend of the first victim of the London Bridge attack has told his inquest she had a “premonition” they would be caught by terrorists.
Christine Delcros was walking on the bridge with father-of-two Xavier Thomas when they were mowed down by terrorists in a hired van on the evening of June 3 2017.
Ms Delcros was badly injured while Mr Thomas, 44, was catapulted over the balustrade and into the Thames. The Frenchman was found three days later and the cause of death was given as immersion.
Ms Delcros told the court she and her boyfriend had travelled by Eurostar for a weekend of sightseeing in London on June 3.
At 9.30pm they had decided to walk from their hotel, the Four Seasons in London Bridge, to have a cocktail in the Shard.
Mr Thomas had been tired but rejected the suggestion of going another night, she said. “I told him I did not know. I had so many premonitions about terror attacks from the day before and I could feel it.
“But I did not tell him, in fact, and to please me he started searching on his phone for another place but it is late now. He said, ‘that’s OK, it’s a magnificent view’, and he had planned everything properly accordingly and not to disappoint him I said OK.
“I just called my daughter and he has a younger son so he called his son and after that we went. After that I do not remember at the time of the van.”
Ms Delcros said she remembered being on the bridge and had the feeling that something was “not normal”.
“Suddenly I was under the impression there was a lot of light and a van that mounted the pavement in the exact fashion to make sure they were not going to miss us.
“I just heard myself say to myself, ‘that’s how one dies, that’s it’.”
Crying, she went on: “I thought that I had died, that the curtain had fallen. To me I was dead. I said to myself that’s how one dies and I have no recollection of the crash.
“It was only light when I woke up.”
Ms Delcros said a man came to help her and held her head as she regained consciousness.
She said: “Once I regained consciousness I asked, ‘where’s Xavier?’. He tried to look for him but he could not find him. I ordered him to look for him.”
The witness said she was in a lot of pain and felt like she was going into light.
“I could hear some voices, I was no longer there. I had my whole head with me but I was no longer using my body. I was going. I thought I would never get out of that light. I would stay there for ever.”
Asked by counsel for the coroner Jonathan Hough QC if she wanted to add to her evidence, she said: “I’m madly in love with Xavier.”
BBC journalist Holly Jones went to help Ms Delcros after jumping out of the path of the van and told police to check the water for her boyfriend.
Describing the moment a “demented” driver headed towards her, Ms Jones said: “Immediately I just froze. It was a feeling I described as like being punched into the chest. “There was a lady in front of me walking towards me. She had headphones on so she was not aware of any of this.
“I remember being stood frozen in fear. Something in the back of my mind told me to get out of the way. I jumped to the right towards the railings.
“At that point the van went past me. I could feel the wind of the van directly behind.”
Ms Jones said she remembered the French couple who looked “very happy together” on the bridge.
“I remember looking over and saw a female on the floor. My first thought was, ‘where’s the gentleman that was with her?'”
She scoured up and down the river but could not see where he was.
When she went to Ms Delcros, the French woman said, “where’s my boyfriend?”, and Ms Jones replied, “I don’t know”, the Old Bailey heard.
She added: “Those who did this try to separate us but they did the opposite. We are not victims of terror, we are survivors.”
Mark Roberts was among a group who had set up tripods to take photographs of Tower Bridge from London Bridge.
He saw a “commotion” with screams and shouts coming from the northern end of the bridge.
He told the court the van was going about 30mph or 40mph when it mounted the pavement and hit a group of people.
He said: “It looked to me it was deliberately steering and aiming at the people. That’s when I realised this is not an accident, this is a deliberate intent.
“At that point it started driving along the pavement towards me. There was one group of people, which included the previous witnesses, 20 yards away.
“I was thinking I should find some cover and I looked around and there was not really anywhere to go so I was frozen to the spot.”
Mr Roberts said he thought he was “next in line”, but suddenly the van steered away towards a large group of people running away.
He told the court one woman was thrown into the air “like a rag doll”.
On Wednesday, Gareth Patterson QC, representing some of the victims, said Mr Thomas and the second victim, Christine Archibald, would not have died if barriers had been put up after the Westminster Bridge attack two months before.
He has also questioned why more had not been done to stop Khuram Butt from hiring the van that hit them, despite being under investigation by MI5 and counter-terrorism police at the time.
After striking 10 pedestrians, including Mr Thomas and 30-year-old Ms Archibald, on the bridge, driver Youssef Zaghba crashed into railings.
Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Zaghba, 22, got out with 12in knives strapped to their hands with duct tape and wearing fake suicide belts.
They ran amok around Borough Market, killing six more people and injuring 48.
They were stopped by police marksmen who shot them dead less than 10 minutes after the rampage began.
The victims were Ms Archibald, 30, Mr Thomas, 45, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, Sara Zelenak, 21, Kirsty Boden, 28, Sebastien Belanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39.