UK opens inquest into Parliament terror attack killings

UK opens inquest into Parliament terror attack killings

 A UK court on Monday opened an inquest into the killings in the Islamic State (ISIS) claimed terrorist attack near the Parliament complex in London in March last year.

Four people were run down and killed as 52-year-old Khalid Masood drove a car into them on Westminster Bridge in London before banging into the side of the Palace of Westminster and then stepping out to stab a policeman to death at the gates of the Parliament on March 22, 2017.

The inquest, led by Chief Coroner Judge Mark Lucraft, at the Old Bailey court in London is expected to last up to five weeks. A separate inquest into the death of Masood, shot dead by plain-clothed armed officers at the Parliament gates, will take place shortly after.

"The lives of many were torn apart by 82 seconds of high and terrible drama," Judge Lucraft said at the start of the proceedings on Monday, when the court observed a minute's silence in memory of those who died.

Families and friends of the five people killed in the attack – Police Constable (PC) Keith Palmer, 48, Aysha Frade, 44, Leslie Rhodes, 75, Andreea Cristea, 31, and Kurt Cochran, 54 – read out tributes to their loved ones, so-called “pen portraits” at the start of the inquest.

Tributes have been paid to PC Keith Palmer, who the inquest was told worked diligently to make London safer.

Metropolitan Police Chief Inspector Neil Sawyer said: "He was always busy, always professional, always doing his best to make London safer."

"One of the hardest working people I had known. Friendly, funny, and caring attitude. He made the ultimate sacrifice in defence of Parliament.

"I will sorely miss him. His brave actions on that day didn't surprise me, he would never back away. He is and always will be an example to us all."

PC Palmer's sister Angela added: "The best day of his life was when his daughter was born. They were inseparable."

Throughout the inquest the coroner is expected to examine the attacker’s background, including his police record and the fact that in 2009 and 2010 he briefly featured in MI5 intelligence service investigations.

Video and CCTV evidence will include footage of Masood as he set about hiring a car as well as buying knives and carrying out reconnaissance ahead of the attack. A series of experts will be called to give evidence about the crash, including the senior Scotland Yard detective who led the police investigation.

They will also be called upon to discuss police body armour and Masood's use of anabolic steroids. A psychologist has been asked to prepare a "psychological autopsy" on Masood to explore the process behind his violent act.