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Man nearly stepped on London Bridge attack victim while fleeing, inquest told

Entrepreneur James McMullan, 32, was the only Briton killed in the attack.

James McMullan, 32, was killed in the London Bridge attack (Met Police/PA)
James McMullan, 32, was killed in the London Bridge attack (Met Police/PA)

A reveller has described how he jumped over a flowerbed and almost trampled on the only Briton to be killed in the London Bridge attack as the terrorists ran amok with bloody knives.

Entrepreneur James McMullan, 32, had been out with friends in the Barrowboy and Banker pub watching football on the evening of June 3 2017.

When terrorists careered down London Bridge and smashed into railings, he came to the aid of Australian au pair Sara Zelenak, 21.

She appeared to trip in her high heels as attackers emerged with 12in knives and Mr McMullan was helping her up when they were both stabbed, the Old Bailey has heard.

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James McMullan died after trying to help an Australian woman (Met Police/PA)

Mr McMullan was later found in an alleyway near to the Boro Bistro restaurant, where Andrius Vorobjovas was celebrating a friend’s birthday.

Mr Vorobjovas described how debris rained down on diners sitting at tables in the courtyard below.

People then ran for their lives when a man emerged wielding a bloody knife which had just been used to stab somebody.

Mr Vorobjovas said: “I saw a man’s blade and a swing away. I saw a bloody blade.”

“I ran. You could hear the tables moving, glasses smashing, people running.”

He headed to flowerbeds and took refuge behind a trellis in an alleyway.

He said: “I nearly stepped on a person on his belly. I was very shocked and amazed to see someone there because I could not figure out how they got there.

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CCTV footage shows James McMullan at top of steps to Green Dragon Court (Met Police/PA)

“When I jumped over the flowerbed I nearly stepped on him.”

The witness told the court the man, since identified as Mr McMullan, was lying “star shaped” on his front but he did not check on him.

He said: “Literally at that moment I thought the individuals are coming our way. I just went down on my knees and tried to hide behind the flowerbed.

“Whilst I was there I did not see any movement. He was right next to me.”

The witness said he hid in the dark passage for some seconds before he ventured out and “decided to make a run for it”.

He emerged on to the main road and shouted at people in another restaurant to run away, he said.

Mr Vorobjovas said he later directed armed officers back to the courtyard of the Boro Bistro before he met his wife, who took him home.

Gareth Patterson QC, for Mr McMullan’s family, said: “You explain how you jumped over a trellis of flowerbeds. You said you stayed there for between 15 and 30 seconds, presumably you were looking around to see what was going on with the attack?

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James McMullan had been watching football inside the Barrowboy and Banker pub (Met Police/PA)

“You were thinking about avoiding the attackers and to get yourself out of danger. So presumably you were not paying particularly close attention to the man on the ground.”

The witness replied: “That’s correct. I did not check. I was sitting right next to him virtually but I was expecting someone to come my way any moment.”

Mr Patterson said: “You described everyone was running for their lives and getting out of harm’s way. You said ‘I was worried for my life’ is that right?”

He agreed, adding that Mr McMullan was not moving.

The lawyer said a post-mortem examination did not reveal any evidence that Mr McMullan had fallen from above.

The court has heard how Mr McMullan, of Brent, had left the pub to have a cigarette but was unable to get back in and had arranged to rejoin his friends at the Boro Bistro instead.

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CCTV footage revealed James McMullan leaving the pub (Met Police/PA)

His friend John Dowd told the inquest that the others had tried to leave the pub too but were stopped when an alarm started.

He said: “At the time I was under the impression it was a drill of some sort. We were directed out the back door. We exited the pub in the back alley which was beside the Boro Bistro.”

He saw another victim – Alexandre Pigeard, 26 – being tended to by people who looked as if they knew what they were doing, he said.

Mr Dowd said: “I approached to check whether it was James. It looked as if he was bleeding from his chest or stomach area. He did not look responsive. He was in the recovery position.

“I was worried about James at that point. I just wanted to make sure it was not James.”

He said it was only later that Mr McMullan’s sister Melissa told him that his card had been found on one of the bodies.

Mr McMullan and Ms Zelenak were among eight people killed by the three attackers who were shot dead by armed police.

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