The fiancee of the first victim of the London Bridge attack in 2017 has told an inquest she had “premonitions about terror attacks” the day he died.
The body of Xavier Thomas was found in the River Thames after he was struck by a van driven by three attackers.
Mr Thomas’s girlfriend Christine Delcros, who was also badly hurt, wept as she gave evidence at the Old Bailey inquest into the eight victims’ deaths.
She told the court she was still “madly in love” with Mr Thomas.
The couple had arrived in London from Paris on the morning of 3 June for a weekend of sightseeing, the court heard.
Ms Delcros said Mr Thomas, 45, had arranged for them to have a cocktail in the Shard in the evening.
“I had so many premonitions about terror attacks from the day before and I could feel it,” she said.
But Mr Thomas had persuaded his girlfriend to stick to the plan.
“Not to disappoint him I said OK,” Ms Delcros told the court.
At about 21:30 BST they decided to walk across London Bridge from their hotel, the Four Seasons, Ms Delcros said.
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,” she said.
“I just heard myself say to myself, ‘That’s how one dies, that’s it.'”
‘Madly in love’
Ms Delcros broke down in tears as she recounted lying on the ground thinking “the curtain had fallen” and she had died.
As she came in and out of consciousness, she asked where Mr Thomas was, the court heard.
The father-of-two had been thrown into the River Thames when the van hit him. His cause of death was given as immersion.
Asked if she had anything further to add, Ms Delcros, speaking in French, said she was still “madly in love” with Mr Thomas and “nothing would destroy that” connection.
As he gave the court her comments in English, the translator had tears streaming down his cheeks.
Khuram Butt, Youssef Zaghba and Rachid Redouane were shot dead by police after they drove a van into pedestrians and went on a stabbing spree shouting “Allahu Akbar” on 3 June 2017.
On Wednesday the inquest was told Mr Thomas and a second victim, Christine Archibald, 30, might still be alive if barriers had been put up following the Westminster Bridge attack, which took place two months earlier.
The attackers had struck Mr Thomas and Ms Archibald with the van and then fatally stabbed Alexandre Pigeard, 26, Sara Zelenak, 21, Kirsty Boden, 28, Sebastien Belanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, and Ignacio Echeverría, 39, around Borough Market.
United by grief
Hanna Yusuf, BBC reporter, at the inquest
The emotion in the courtroom was palpable as Christine Delcros and witness and BBC journalist Holly Jones each took to the stand to give tearful accounts of seeing the vehicle approach and fearing for the worst.
Ms Delcros, who supported herself with a walking stick due to the injuries from the attack, held a hand to her head as she relived the horrors of the night that took away the love of her life.
She winced when describing the exact moment she and Mr Thomas were struck by the van.
Ms Delcros and Ms Jones, who have formed a close friendship as a result of the attack, were united in their grief.
Ms Jones told the courtroom the attackers’ attempt to instil fear and divide had failed. With pride and defiance, Ms Jones said: “We’re not victims of terror. We’re survivors.”
Ms Delcros’s tearful tribute to Mr Thomas ended with a declaration of undying love in the face of adversity.
The inquest continues.
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