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Young woman kissed fiance and told him she loved him moments before London Bridge terror attack

Christine Archibald kissed her fiance and told him 'I love you' moments before she died. Credit: Family handout

A young woman kissed her fiance and told him “I love you” moments before she was caught up in the London Bridge and Borough Market terror attack, an inquest has heard.

Three women and five men died on June 3 2017 after three men ploughed into crowds in a white van before stabbing revellers with 12in ceramic knives.

The victims were Christine Archibald, 30, Xavier Thomas, 45, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, Sara Zelenak, 21, Kirsty Boden, 28, Sebastien Belanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39.

Victims Christine Archibald, James McMullan, Alexandre Pigeard, Sebastien Belanger, Kirsty Boden, Sara Zelenak, Xavier Thomas and Ignacio Echeverria Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

At the start of their inquests, families paid tribute to their loved ones in a packed Court One of the Old Bailey.

Canadian Ms Archibald was visiting London for the weekend with fiance Tyler Ferguson when tragedy struck.

In a statement read to the court, Mr Ferguson said they had been “very much looking forward” to spending the rest of their lives together and starting a family.

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On the day of the attack, Ms Archibald, who worked in a shelter, was feeling “proud” about negotiating the London Underground when they met for dinner.

Mr Ferguson said: “We decided to walk over London Bridge. At one point Chrissy stopped me out of nowhere, gave me a passionate kiss and told me she loved me.

“Then the attack happened and Chrissy was killed.”

He said the engagement ring was lost in the aftermath but later recovered.

  • The Frenchman and dad-of-two who lost his life
Christine Delcros, the girlfriend of Xavier Thomas. Credit: PA

Frenchman Mr Thomas’s girlfriend Christine Delcos, who was among the injured, was overcome by emotion as she gave a tearful tribute in French.

Accountant Mr Thomas was the first killed by the terrorists when he was struck by the van and pushed into the Thames. His body was recovered three days later.

He was described by his family as “fearless, dynamic, unselfish, very hard working and always positive in every situation”.

The divorcee was “totally committed” to his two children and his relationship with Ms Decros was a “passionate love story”.

His killers were described in court by his parents as “barbarians” who had left them in “inconsolable despair”.

Philliphe Pesez, Mr Thomas's stepfather, said: "Barbarians who can in no way be described as human took his life and totally devastated his family... his children have lost everything they relied on and it's very difficult for them to recover from that."

All eight victims were killed and 48 more were seriously injured in less than 10 minutes of “high and terrible drama”, the chief coroner said.

  • The Australian nurse who ran to try to save others
Kirsty Boden tried to save others when she was killed. Credit: PA

The partner of Australian nurse Kirsty Boden, 28, who was killed as she ran towards the attack in a selfless bid to save people, has told how he is still "in awe of her bravery".

In an emotional tribute, James Hodder said he was "completely floored" by Ms Boden, who was from the small town of Loxton, in southern Australia, when she moved to London in 2013.

"Despite me being a pasty, bumbling, British accountant, Kirsty fell in love with me and our love never stopped growing from the first summer in 2013," he said.

The couple moved to Hampstead, in north London, and Mr Hodder said: "We had a beautiful life there. I am still head over heels in love with Kirsty and I miss her so much.

"But I am so thankful for all the years we shared together and I will treasure those memories forever."

At the time she was stabbed to death, Ms Boden was working as a senior staff nurse at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in central London.

The inquest heard she was on a night out with friends at Boro Bistro on June 3 2017.

She heard the sound of the van crashing and her immediate response was to leave the table to help, the coroner said.

Mr Hodder said: "Her actions on that night didn't surprise anyone who knew her. To Kirsty it would not have seemed brave.

"She loved people and loved her life helping others. To Kirsty, her actions that night would have been an extension of how she lived her life.

"We are so unspeakably proud of her and not a day goes by that we are not in awe of her bravery that night."

Speaking on behalf of her family, Ms Boden's father, Ken, said his daughter "meant the world to us".

He said: "We miss Kirsty every second of the day. There is a hole in our hearts that will never heal."

  • The Spaniard who tried to fight off the terrorists with his skateboard
Chief Coroner Mark Lucraft praised Ignacio Echeverria's courage. Credit: PA

Spaniard Ignacio Echeverria, 39, was stabbed to death as he "courageously" tried to fight off the terrorist attackers with his skateboard.

He had been in the UK for over a year at the time of his death and was working as a financial crime analyst at HSBC.

His family did not attend court and were not represented but Jonathan Hough QC, counsel for the inquest, read out a statement on their behalf.

"The day he died he had spent full day skateboarding with friends in London, moving from one skateboarding hot spot to the following with a group of friends," it said.

"He had planned to go for dinner to his sister's place but decided to delay his visit to later in the evening because he was really having a good time.

"Ignacio and two other friends had rented bikes to go for dinner - some minutes later they crossed the terrorists who killed him."

The inquest heard Mr Echeverria joined unarmed PC Wayne Marques and an off-duty PC Charlie Guenigault in fighting off the three attackers as they set upon Marie Bondeville, hitting at least one terrorist with his skateboard.

"His courageous efforts were to seek to stop the attack," Chief Coroner Mark Lucraft said.

"In the course of doing what he did, he was fatally stabbed outside the Lobos restaurant."

The inquest heard Mr Echeverria was the youngest of five siblings and was a Catholic who went to mass every week.

He could speak English, German and French fluently.

His family said: "For all his life he also enjoyed the company of his family, not only his parents and siblings but also cousins, uncles and aunts.

"Even if sometimes the relationships with his siblings were troubled he always loved them, being close to them and choosing to spend a major part of his spare time with his family.

"He enjoyed being close to his nephews and nieces and was a real playmate to them - Ignacio would play as a child with them, making him very special for them all."

  • The young Frenchman who loved music
Alexandre Pigeard was a huge fan of electronic dance music. Credit: PA

Musician Alexandre Pigeard was at the height of his youth and happy living in London when he was murdered, his father has said.

The 26-year-old Frenchman moved to the English capital to work in a restaurant but also because it was central to the electronic dance music that he loved.

A video montage was played to the inquest into his death, including pictures of him smiling on a sunny London street hours before he was killed.

On the night he died, he video-called his father during a break from work at the Boro Bistro.

The dance music fan was part of a group called Club 808, and the tribute included photographs of him performing in DJ booths at various gigs.

He had planned to return to France in autumn 2017 to help open a restaurant in Nantes and to record an EP with his musician father, Philippe Pigeard.

When he was offered the chance to work in London, the family said: "We all encouraged him to embark on this adventure, if only to perfect his English."

Mr Pigeard went on: "I'm present here as a devastated father who has lost a child in such circumstances. An inconsolable father.

"I'm not just a father, I'm all the fathers in the world and all the mothers in the world who have been struck by similar tragedies.

"This attack has resulted in eight deaths and 48 people injured. Shouldn't we add the number of people who have also been devastated by the loss or the trauma of a person close to them?"

Alexandre died from stab wounds to his neck and chest. He was found in Montague Close, in the shadow of Southwark Cathedral.

  • The entrepreneur who had just won financial backing
Simon and Mila McMullan, the parents of James McMullan. Credit: PA

Entrepreneur James McMullan had been out celebrating getting financial backing for his online education company on the night he was killed by terrorists in London.

The dual British and Filipino from Brent, north-west London, was watching the Champions League final with friends in a pub, but was stabbed to death when he left to have a cigarette.

His sister Melissa said he called their mother, who lost her own mother months later, the previous morning.

"He was excited, giddy. He told her how everything was going to be okay, that he was going to be able to look after her," she said.

She told how she last saw the 32-year-old alive on her 30th birthday on 13 May, 2017 - and that two years later she was hearing evidence about his death.

"You belong to the moon and stars now," she said.

"Rest in power, James."

Sara Zelenak's parents, Mark and Julie Wallace, arriving for the first day of the inquest. Credit: PA

Australian au pair Ms Zelenak was on a "trip of a lifetime" when she was knifed to death while on a night out with a friend,her family said.

The mother of chef Mr Belanger, Josiane Belanger, told the court:"We miss him so much, his smile, his joie de vivre. I do not forgive what they did to him. They mutilated and killed him."

  • Who is in court today?
The key locations during and after the attack. Credit: PA Graphics

Mark Lucraft QC expressed his condolences in court and added: “It is important to acknowledge that many lives were saved by the rapid response of members of the public and members of the emergency services.

“A number of those were eyewitnesses to the unfolding drama and will give evidence of what they saw.”

Mr Lucraft told the court he hoped the inquest would answer the “obvious and understandable questions” of the relatives and give them some comfort.

Earlier, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, the head of UK counter-terrorism policing Neil Basu and the Commissioner of City of London Police Ian Dyson joined the families in standing for a minute’s silence.

  • Who were the terrorists?
Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba. Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

The attackers, Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, were shot dead by police at the scene of the attack.

They launched their assault three months after Khalid Masood mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before stabbing a police officer to death.

The inquests are expected to examine why there were still no barriers to protect pedestrians on London Bridge by June 3.

Families will also want answers to how Butt was able to plan and carry out the attack while he was under investigation by security services.

In the coming weeks, the court will hear from witnesses, the family and friends of the attackers, and a senior MI5 officer.

Other evidence is expected to include CCTV footage of the attacks and the terrorists’ movements, body-worn video from police officers, and footage from members of the public caught up in the carnage.