Liverpool bomber died from blast caused by device he made with 'murderous intent', coroner rules

ITV Granada Reports' Victoria Grimes has the latest.

The Liverpool bomber died from the explosion and fire caused by the improvised device he manufactured with “murderous intent”, a coroner has ruled.

Emad Al Swealmeen, 32, died when the taxi he was a passenger in exploded outside the hospital just before 11am on Remembrance Sunday.

The incident sparked a police investigation, several arrests, and resulted in the UK's terror threat level being raised.

Recording a narrative conclusion at the inquest at Liverpool and Wirral Coroner’s Court, senior coroner Andre Rebello said: “On November 14 2021 Emad Jamil Salman Al Swealmeen died in a taxi in front of Liverpool Women’s Hospital.

“He died from an explosion and subsequent fire caused by an improvised explosive device which he had carried into the taxi.

“It is found he manufactured the improvised explosive device, designed to project shrapnel, with murderous intent.”

Emad Al Swealmeen

He said the device was made at a flat rented by Al Swealmeen in Rutland Avenue, adding: “It remains unclear as to whether he intended the device to detonate when it did.”

The inquest heard Emad Al Swealmeen rang his brother two days before he died and suggested he might do “something bad”.

Senior coroner Andre Rebello said Al Swealmeen’s brother, who lives in America, said he had spoken to him on Friday, November 12, two days before the bomb went off.

Mr Rebello told the inquest: “He says towards the end of call Emad said something like ‘if I do something bad that will affect the family what do you think?’

“He replied something like ‘don’t do s***t, advising him as an older brother, although this was something which caused him concern, knowing his previous issues.”

Bomb disposal team search property on Rutland Avenue in Liverpool. Credit: PA

He said Al Swealmeen, born in Baghdad, had been in prison in the Middle East for a serious assault on another person, as well as being in trouble in Liverpool previously for possession of an offensive weapon.

The inquest heard Emad Al Swealmeen came to the country legally in May 2014 with a Jordanian passport and UK visa.

Senior coroner Andre Rebello said: “Shortly after his arrival he claimed, it is believed falsely, that he was of Syrian heritage and claimed asylum as a refugee from that country.”

He said that claim and all subsequent claims for asylum were refused, with the latest refusal in November 2020.

A CCTV camera caught the moment the explosion happened.

This video contains distressing images

Mr Rebello said there had been reports Al Swealmeen had rejected Islam and converted to Christianity.

He asked Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Meeks, the senior investigating officer in the case, if this could be to strengthen his asylum claim.

Mr Meeks said: “I’d agree with that because he would claim he’d be liable to persecution on return to Syria or Iraq.”

Mr Rebello added: “When premises were searched both a Holy Koran and prayer mat were present and it was fairly evident that he carried out the religious duties of someone who is a follower of Islam, not withstanding the reported conversion to Christianity.”

The inquest heard Emad Al Swealmeen was resident at premises provided by the Home Office in Sutcliffe Street, in the Kensington area of Liverpool, but since April 2021 had rented a self-contained flat in Rutland Avenue, where he paid the rent monthly in cash.

Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Meeks confirmed it was accurate to describe the Rutland Avenue address as a “bomb-making factory”.

He confirmed the device used a homemade explosive charge and was intended to cause death and serious injury.

The taxi on fire outside of the Women's Hospital in Liverpool. Credit: Viewer footage.

Mr Meeks said there was no evidence to suggest anyone else had been involved with the procurement of materials or construction of the device but investigations were continuing.

The inquest heard that in Sutcliffe Street items were recovered which were likely to have been self-manufactured and intending to be components of improvised firearms.

Financial investigations showed a number of purchases took place between March 2020 and November this year consistent with the purchase of materials likely to be used in the manufacture of improvised firearms or homemade explosives, the inquest heard.

Mr Meeks told the inquest 2,000 ball bearings had been purchased by Al Swealmeen.

Taxi driver David Perry

The coroner’s court heard that taxi driver David Perry was working on the morning of Sunday November 14 when a job came in for Rutland Avenue.

Senior coroner Andre Rebello said: “He recalls the last fare being on Allerton Road. He remembers a young girl specifically as she said to him ‘I have given you all my luck’ as she got out of the car.

“This really stuck in his mind and made him think how lucky he had been.”

The inquest heard when he approached Rutland Avenue he called his next passenger to check the number of the property and a male answered and confirmed the address.

He said a male came down the steps of the house and walked around the back of the car into the rear passenger seat, pushing himself up against the window and the door.

Mr Rebello said: “The only words he spoke were ‘Women’s Hospital’ in what Mr Perry describes as a foreign, Middle Eastern accent.”

Mr Perry did not recall what he was wearing other than a blue and white surgical mask, which meant he could not see his face, the inquest heard.

CCTV footage shows the moments after the attack.

The inquest was told taxi driver David Perry drove to the hospital and stopped outside the front entrance.

Senior coroner Andre Rebello said: “As his car came to a stop he didn’t notice anything unusual, no warning, no movement from the passenger, just the blast.

“He described the journey as non-eventful, saying if the bomb hadn’t gone off he wouldn’t have remembered anything about the journey.

“David described pressing on the brakes, coming to a slow stop. As the vehicle stopped, suddenly it felt like a wagon had crashed into the back of the car and he said he was thrown forwards and blacked out for a couple of seconds.”

Forensics outside of the women's hospital after the explosion. Credit: PA

He said when Mr Perry became conscious again he felt burning to his back. He suffered three fractures to the bottom of his back and damage to his eardrums, the inquest heard.

Mr Rebello said: “I suppose he is probably one of the unluckiest taxi drivers around and yet possibly one of the luckiest given what could have been.”

Al Swealmeen was identified by records held on police systems, the inquest was told.

Forensic pathologist Jonathan Metcalfe found the cause of death was the effects of an explosion with fire.

Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Meeks confirmed Al Swealmeen was not on the radar of security services.

Al Swealmeen

Mr Rebello said: “It just shows how everyone needs to be very vigilant about anything of this nature with regard to nipping anything in the bud.”

The coroner said police still did not know what Al Swealmeen’s intention had been. Mr Meeks said: “We still don’t at this point, no, the investigation is ongoing.”

The coroner said Al Swealmeen, 32, and recorded as without occupation, was the only fatal victim but the explosion had affected lives of innocent people.

He said: “It is clear from the evidence even beyond the balance of probabilities this device could have only been manufactured with murderous intent, fortunately there was only one victim.”