A journalist who was stabbed in the London Bridge terror attack has recalled the “murderous rage” of three knife-wielding men who he tried to talk down.
Business and financial journalist Geoffrey Ho told an inquest at the Old Bailey that he saw three men approaching the Black and Blue restaurant in a “slow, deliberate and predatory movement” like “they were stalking someone”.
Eight people were killed and 48 injured when Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, launched a van and knife attack in central London on June 3, 2017.
Mr Ho said the men were shouting and screaming and a waitress had bolted the door of the restaurant, but the attackers later battered it down.
He said a man wearing an Arsenal shirt seemed to be leading the group, and there was also one with messy hair and another with a beard.
They were carrying knives and Mr Ho said he was convinced they were wearing suicide vests.
He told the court: “As soon as they approached the door I could see a series of metal vests attached to each of them to some fabric.”
He said they had a series of wires and he thought they were IEDs (improvised explosive devices) or suicide vests.
The court heard the attackers kicked the door off its hinges and walked into the restaurant, and Mr Ho said he tried to engage with them to get them to stop.
He said the men “moved as a pack” and the man in the Arsenal shirt screamed: “Everyone lie down on the floor.”
He noted that one of the three men moved off and the man in the Arsenal shirt again “spat” out his order to lie down.
Mr Ho told the hearing he thought about intervening and said: “No, you do not have to do this.”
He told the court: “(I thought) if I rush him he might detonate and kill us all.
"Hopefully if I talk to him we might be able to get away.”
Mr Ho recalled thinking he could not protect himself if he laid down on the floor.
He looked at the attacker and saw “he just wanted to kill people and there was rage, just murderous rage", he told the inquest.
Mr Ho recalled being lunged at with a knife and trying to defend himself.
He said: “He hit my neck first. Then he hit it again.
"I remember the blood.
"Then he came after me again and stabbed me in the stomach.”
He remembered being on the floor and there was further contact to the side of his head.
After the attack Mr Ho and another man, Gavin Joseph, went into a staff room, locked the door and called the police.
CCTV footage later showed that the time taken from the attackers battering the door down until they lashed out was less than a minute.
Mr Ho told the court: “Yes, but it seemed longer.”
All the attackers had knives and vests which seemed to have canisters to one side, Mr Joseph told the inquest.
The bartender recalled that one of the terrorists said “get down, get down, we have got bombs”, and that he seemed “quite angry and smug, almost” as he said it.
Mr Joseph said he saw Mr Ho try to “engage” with the men, only to then see him “falling to the floor”.
He remembered one or two of the attackers stepping towards him and falling backwards as he felt blows to his face.
Mr Joseph, who used both hands to try to protect himself, said: “I sustained four injuries but I do not know from how many blows.”
The next thing he recalled was someone shouting for help, Mr Ho in front of him on the bloodstained floor, and that the attackers had gone.
Mr Joseph used clothing to stem the bleeding as they waited for police to arrive.
The three attackers were shot dead by armed officers.
Mr Ho told reporters after his appearance at the inquest: "All I want to say is if it weren't for the police, the Metropolitan Police, British Transport Police, City of London, the paramedics and all the doctors and nurses at Guy's, St. Thomas', Royal London, I don't know if we would be here."
The inquest continues.