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Tunisia attack survivor describes coming face to face with gunman

A survivor of the Tunisia terror attack came face to face with the gunman who shot her and her husband before he calmly walked away, showing no emotion, an inquest has heard.

Gina Van Dort described seeing Seifeddine Rezgui, who opened fire at the five-star Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Sousse on June 26 2015, walking towards where she and her husband had tried to hide.

Christopher Dyer, from Watford, Hertfordshire, was killed in the attack in which 30 Britons were murdered.

In a statement to the inquests being held at the Royal Courts of Justice, Ms Van Dort said she and Mr Dyer were shot as they crouched behind a car, trying to hide from the gunman.

She said: "I did not see the shooter walk out of the hotel doors, but just saw the shooter coming towards where we were.

"(He was) about 10 metres away from me. He was in my sight.

"He was walking towards us. He was looking towards us."

She added that the shooter was very quiet and had a "stoic" look on his face as he walked slowly towards them.

"The shooter had the same expression the whole time. It was a really unimpressed, blank look.

"He just walked towards us, shot us and walked away. He just shot and went," said Ms Van Dort.

She told the inquest she did not feel any pain, adding: "I realised I was still alive.

"I closed my eyes, I stopped breathing - I was pretending to be dead. I remember counting three breaths, and it was over.

"When I couldn't hold my breath any longer, I opened my eyes."

The court heard that as she lay next to 32-year-old Mr Dyer's body, she waved to attract the attention of a man who was ushering other people somewhere.

Ms Van Dort explained that at first she did not think the man had seen her, but then he walked over to her.

She told the inquest she would like to publicly thank the medical staff who helped her.

The court also heard from Christine Cullen, the wife of Stuart Cullen, who was shot dead during the attack.

She described running away from the sounds of the gunshots into a staff corridor.

But as the sounds got closer, they were shown out of a door that led to the front car park.

Mrs Cullen then saw the gunman throw a bomb towards them.

She said: "As it exploded, it lit up our surroundings with orange and red light."

When Mrs Cullen bent down to pick up her Kindle and flip-flops, which she had dropped during the explosion, she saw her husband lying on the ground.

The inquest heard Mrs Cullen felt a pain in her leg and dropped to the floor.

Noticing that the former prison officer was bleeding heavily from the neck, she tried to stop the flow with her hand.

She said: "I told him I could not stop the surge of blood. I told him I loved him and he told me he loved me. I knew he was dying."

The inquest was told that Rezgui then walked towards the couple, from Lowestoft, Suffolk, and despite Mrs Cullen's cries of "No, No", shot Mr Cullen.

Mrs Cullen said the shooter had taken away the love of her life and Mr Cullen's "biggest dream" of walking their daughter, Emma-Jayne, down the aisle.

Emma-Jayne and Mrs Cullen both attended the hearing on Thursday.

Earlier in the day the inquest heard how the fiance of a woman killed in the terror attack told her he loved her before trying to save her life.

Carly Lovett, 24, from Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, died in Sousse while on her first couple's holiday with Liam Moore.

The hearing was told the fashion blogger and Mr Moore had run from the pool area of the hotel after hearing gunshots on the beach.

Seeking safety, they fled into the hotel and up some stairs to what looked like an admin area for staff.

In a statement to the inquest, Mr Moore described the couple comforting each other before there being an "explosion".

He said: "We were standing close to each other, just hugging each other and holding each other's hands.

"Carly was saying that she was scared and I said I was too, but that we would get out of there."

He added he heard a "massive bang" which left a ringing in his ears, and thought there must have been an explosion very close to where they were standing.

"As the smoke cleared, I immediately started looking for Carly, and I could see that she was lying on her front in the doorway of one of the offices."

The inquest heard he bent down towards his fiancee and turned her on her back to see her surrounded by blood.

"She told me she loved me and I told her I loved her too," said Mr Moore, who described seeing a wound on her inner arm.

Explaining what Mr Moore had said in this statement, counsel to the inquest Aaron Moss said: "He (Mr Moore) performed CPR - mouth-to-mouth breathing. He then said that when her body relaxed, he knew that he had been unable to save her life."

The inquest heard Ms Lovett and Mr Moore had been together for 10 years and were engaged to be married.

In a pen portrait, her family described the keen photographer as the "perfect child".

It continued: "I cannot find the words to express how much Carly is missed by her family and by so many people."

The inquest also heard from the wife of a former paratrooper who was gunned down during the attack.

John Stollery, 58, and his wife Cheryl were desperately running away from the sound of gunfire when he was shot in the head and killed.

Mrs Stollery, from Nottinghamshire was left with the task of finding their son, Matthew - who is currently studying for a Masters degree - while trying to avoid being killed.

In a statement released before evidence into Mr Stollery's death was heard, the mother and son said: "For us John's family, it is important not only to confirm the circumstances of John's death, we hope the inquest will raise awareness of what happened and ultimately the findings and outcomes from the Tunisia inquest will support 'lessons being learnt'."

They added: "We love and miss John terribly, our world has been shattered and we are totally devastated by the way he was taken from us by a mindless act of terrorism born out of extremist behaviours and toxic ideologies."

The inquest resumes at 10am on Monday.

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