London Bridge terrorists hired van and bought gravel to weight it down in Harold Hill, inquest hears

Evidence from the London Bridge terror attack inquest. The van used in the incident. Picture: Met Po

Evidence from the London Bridge terror attack inquest. The van used in the incident. Picture: Met Police - Credit: Met Police

The London Bridge terrorists rented the van they would use to plough into pedestrians in Harold Hill, an inquest sitting at the Old Bailey heard.

Strolling in the park with his young family, he looked like any other doting dad playing with his young son and daughter.

CCTV later captured him withdrawing money at a cash point while his eldest child tugged at his shirt.

The father than gathered him up in a big hug on June 3 2017.

But the money wasn't for an ice cream or a family day out to the cinema, it was to hire a van in Harold Hill that would be used to plough into pedestrians on London Bridge, before he and his friends would start killing innocent bystanders with 12-inch knives bought from Lidl in East Ham.

For the father captured on camera was Khuram Butt, mere hours before he unleashed terror on London Bridge by ploughing into pedestrians and then launching a violent knife attack on innocent passersby with Rachid Redouane, 30, Youssef Zaghba, 22.

They killed eight and wounded 48 people before being shot dead by armed police within 10 minutes of the incident.

Most Read

An inquest into the victims and the terrorists' deaths is being heard at the Old Bailey.

On Wednesday May 29, the court heard how on the morning of the attack two of the terrorists had spent time with their children before driving to Harold Hill.

At 5.50pm, Butt, and Zaghba arrived at the B&Q store in Tangent Link, Harold Hill, while Redouane's red Corsa arrived a little later.

After hiring a van, they bought 29 bags of gravel, which were put in the back of the vehicle to add weight.

They left the B&Q at 6.34pm, with Zaghba driving the van and Butt in the front passenger seat, while Redouane followed with his daughter in the Corsa.

Redouane dropped off his child before joining the others at Zaghba's home in Fairfield Road in Ilford.

The attackers stopped off at a Shell garage at 7.54pm, where they bought diesel, drinks and snack bars before heading to Butt's Barking address.

While there, the attackers loaded up black plastic chairs before setting off at 8.55pm towards central London.

There, they mounted the kerb and launched their attack on the bridge at 10.07pm.

Jonathan Hough QC, counsel for the coroner, said: "These are domestic scenes which cannot be more different from the night's events that follow."

The court also heard that the terrorist could have been planning to attack Oxford Street but diverted to London Bridge at the last minute.

A mobile phone was later found in their van with directions to London's busy shopping district.

Acting Det Ch Insp Wayne Jolley said it was possible the attackers could have switched their attention to London Bridge "on route" from east London where they lived.

He also told the court that all three attackers were working together by at least January 14 2017.

They regularly trained at the Ummah Fitness Centre in Ilford and went on Sunday swimming trips to Stratford.

The London Bridge attacker from Ilford slipped through the net despite admitting that he was travelling to "be a terrorist" the inquest heard.

Italian authorities had first been alerted to Zaghba in March 2016, when he was stopped before boarding a flight from Bologna to Turkey.

Asked what he was going to do in Istanbul, the 22-year-old Moroccan said, "be a terrorist" before quickly correcting himself to say "tourist".

Zaghba was born in Fez to a Moroccan father and Italian mother and moved to Ilford in 2015.

Having worked in a restaurant, he got a job as a studio technician at an Islamic television station in Parsons Green.

As a result of being stopped at Bologna Airport, Italian authorities put his name on the international Schengen information database but without specific details.

London Bridge terrorist, Rachid Redouane, 30 of Dagenham also went undetected despite calling the death of fusilier Lee Rigby the "government's fault" after he was detained at an immigration centre in Belfast.

He met his wife, Charisse O'Leary, in a nightclub in Manchester and they married in Dublin, the court heard.

Their relationship broke down after he slapped her face for warming their baby daughter's milk in the microwave.

Redouane moved to East Ham but continued to have regular contact with his child.

On the afternoon before the attack, Redouane took his child with him to some of the places where attack preparations were made.

The inquest continues.