Man threw chair at London Bridge terrorists in bid to save lives, inquest told
Gerard Vowls tried to distract the attackers during the rampage in June 2017.
A have-a-go hero threw a chair, pint glasses and bottles at London Bridge attackers while shouting “terrorist cowards” as he tried to save people’s lives, an inquest has heard.
Gerard Vowls had been watching the Champions League final before he came across Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, stabbing victims on June 3 2017.
The attackers killed eight people and injured another 48 in the van and knife attack before they were shot dead.
Mr Vowls told the Old Bailey on Tuesday he saw a young woman being stabbed by the three terrorists, who were “not human-looking”.
I started shouting, 'terrorists'. I was pointing at them, going 'run'. I was just trying to warn as many people as I could Gerard Vowls
He said the expression in their eyes was “hatred” as they were “thrashing at the girl”, making “40 to 50” stabbing motions.
Mr Vowls broke down in court as he recalled her pleading for help.
“That is the worst part. That’s what gives me the nightmares. She kept saying, ‘help, help me’,” he said.
“I heard one of them say, ‘this is for Allah’.”
Mr Vowls said he ran towards a Santander bike, which he wanted to throw at the attackers, but it was too heavy.
The inquest heard he shouted: “You cowards, you c***s. Come and get me.”
“I don’t think they were taking any notice of me,” he said. “I think they were sort of jogging left and right looking for the victims so they could attack them.
“I started shouting, ‘terrorists’. I was pointing at them, going ‘run’. I was just trying to warn as many people as I could.”
The court heard Mr Vowls ran after the terrorists down Borough High Street and into the area of Borough Market, where he caught sight of them again near the Brindisa restaurant.
CCTV images showed him picking up a chair, following the attackers, and throwing it towards Butt at close range before Mr Vowls was followed.
He said he hoped to get the men away from the people they were attacking and into an area where they would be shot by armed police.
Mr Vowls told how he again threw makeshift weapons as they continued the rampage.
“When I got to the Wheatsheaf pub, there was a couple of barrels outside, pint glasses and bottles.
“I shouted at them again, ‘terrorist cowards,’ and just started throwing pint glasses and bottles at them – everything that was there.”
He added: “They sort of turned around but because I had a few drinks I was getting near but missing every time.”
Mr Vowls said he tried to warn people inside the Black and Blue restaurant by gesturing through the glass front but saw at least two people stabbed as the terrorists went inside.
“I thought, ‘we need to get the police, there’s nothing I can do’,” he said.
The inquest heard he found two unarmed officers, then heard gunshots as the attackers were killed by police marksmen.
“I saw the three terrorists lying on the floor dead,” Mr Vowls added.
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, were all killed in the attack, which lasted less than 10 minutes.
The inquest continues.