Westminster attacker’s car as ‘lethal as a gun’ , inquest told

Westminster attacker’s car as ‘lethal as a gun’, inquest told

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Terrorist Khalid Masood’s rented 4x4 was as “lethal as a knife or a gun” when he ploughed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, an inquest has heard.

Kurt Cochran, 54, Leslie Rhodes, 75, Aysha Frade, 44, and Andreea Cristea, 31, were killed after being hit by the Hyundai Tucson being driven by Masood, 52, in just 30 seconds.

Consultant pathologist Ashley Fegan-Earl described the range of serious injuries suffered after the vehicle was deliberately used as a weapon, adding: “It is as lethal as a knife or a gun.”

Masood crashed his car before stabbing PC Keith Palmer, 48, to death at the gates to the Palace of Westminster before being shot three times by a plainclothes police officer on March 22.

An inquest at the Old Bailey on Tuesday heard Mr Cochran, Mr Rhodes, and Ms Frade suffered “unsurvivable” injuries during Masood’s rampage on Westminster Bridge.

Mr Fegan-Earl said Ms Cristea’s head injuries would have been “highly likely” to have proved fatal even if the Romanian interior designer had not been thrown 10 feet into the air before plunging 41 feet to the Thames below.

She was pulled out of the water after five minutes spent lying unconscious and face down, but died in hospital two weeks later.

Her cause of death was given as multiple organ failure due to head injury and immersion.

Jonathan Hough QC, for the coroner, queried whether Ms Cristea might have lived if her head had been lifted out of the water sooner.

The pathologist said: “I suspect not.”


‘Devastating and unsurvivable’

The inquest heard Mr Rhodes suffered a "devastating" head injury when he was struck by Masood's rented car before being thrown on to the road.

He was taken to King's College Hospital for treatment but died around 24 hours later.

Dr Fegan-Earl said: "The injury was devastating, unsurvivable and, in my opinion, it would have rendered him deeply unconscious straight away.

"There was no issue with the medical treatment he received and the formal cause of death was given as head injury."

But asked if Mr Rhodes could or would have survived had he received earlier medical intervention, the pathologist said: "In my opinion, no."

Dr Fegan-Earl said Ms Frade's "death would have been near instantaneous and in my opinion without suffering" when she was struck from behind, thrown into the air and under the wheels of a double-decker bus.

He said she suffered a "devastating, unsurvivable head injury" as well as "devastating internal injuries" and fractures to her lower limbs.

She would have been rendered unconscious immediately on the initial impact with Masood's car, which may have been fatal in itself, he added.

Ms Frade's official cause of death was given as head and chest injuries.