Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland man's lucky escape as killers' van sped towards him

By Eamon Sweeney

A Northern Ireland man who narrowly escaped injury in the Westminster attack believes the jihadist he saw close-up was Rachid Reduoane, the extremist who lived in a Dublin suburb.

Iain McKenzie, from Cookstown, was with girlfriend Camilla Cardenas on Saturday night when terrorists struck.

He is convinced that the murderers were attempting to mow himself and his girlfriend down in the van they were driving and the couple only escaped because the attackers struck a set of traffic lights just feet away.

He said: "My girlfriend and myself were in the Barrowboy and Banker pub celebrating her birthday and watching the Champions League final.

"We had a couple of drinks and when the game ended about 10pm we decided to get something to eat.

"I had about half a pint left and decided to leave it behind and that was probably a good thing because within about 10 seconds after we left I heard plastic scraping and looked around and saw the van careering towards us. It hit a central reservation and I thought 'this doesn't look right', because it kept on coming towards us.

"He kept turning right and then I thought 'we are in trouble here'. Then he crashed into metal railings on the footpath and I honestly thought Camilla had been hit, but then she came back towards me and I turned around to look at the van.

"I honestly thought the driver had taken a heart attack, but then one of them got out of the passenger side of the van. I saw that he had a large knife, perhaps 12 inches long, and at that point we started shouting that it was a terrorist attack to warn people, and we started sprinting as fast as we could into Borough Markets."

After dismounting from the van they had hired the murderers immediately set about their deadly assault on the unsuspecting Saturday night revellers.

Iain added: "People were screaming. They had already started to stab people. We just kept running.

"I checked in with my mum and said I was OK, then I called 999. We got home eventually. Looking back now, the fact that the driver hit a set of traffic lights saved us.

"He was trying to mount the kerb to hit us. He stopped only a couple of metres away from us. If he'd come any further it would have been very difficult to get out of his way."

Mr McKenzie, who works as an IT consultant, says that he is as convinced as he can be that the sole attacker he saw was Rachid Redouane.

"He was wearing a maroon top and now I've looked at the pictures released to the Press I believe it was the guy in the middle of the three images. His beard was quite closely cropped. If you are asking me in terms of percentages, I am 75% sure it was him."

Mr Mackenzie also said he believed he and his girlfriend were standing beside a victim of the attack inside the Barrowboy and Banker pub on Saturday.

"I'm pretty sure we were standing beside the man identified as James McMullen. He went outside for a cigarette and was killed," he added.

Asked if the terrifying experience of the London attack would make him reconsider living in London, Iain McKenzie said: "No, because this is what these guys are hoping people will do.

"You have to keep trucking on. But, if I hear cars or vans highly revved up at the minute I admit I am taking a second look.

"It puts things into perspective more than anything. You realise you shouldn't be complaining about small things. Small, little decisions we took at random on Saturday night saved our lives."

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