A café worker stabbed in the London Bridge terror attack today told how she hid customers in the cellar to save them from the rampaging extremists.
Candice Hedge, who worked at Elliot’s Café, saw one of the terrorists approaching and told panicked diners to go downstairs to avoid being seen.
She was herself unable to reach the safety of the cellar, she told the inquest this morning, and was stabbed in the neck as she crouched behind one of the restaurant’s booths.
Ms Hedge said customers and members of the public “surged” into the restaurant as the attackers approached, and she then saw a figure “sneaking around” outside.
“I realised they were coming into the restaurant”, she told the hearing at the Old Bailey.
“I did go to the seating area at the back and explain that we would get them to safety. My partner, who also works at the restaurant, shouted at me to go downstairs.”
Ms Hedge said one of the terrorists, who appeared to be wearing an explosive vest, entered the restaurant as she was across the room from the cellar door, and unable to flee to safety without being seen.
“I hid”, she said. “Just behind a booth I crouched down between the wall and the table. There were customers at the back of the restaurant, 20 or so, they were hiding and scrambling to try and get a safe spot.”
Ms Hedge said two of the terrorists were in the room, and she heard them ranting at the terrified customers.
“They were shouting, I can’t remember what exactly, but something along the lines of they weren’t happy with the way we were living our lives”, she said.
“One of the men, I just saw him come down on another customer trying to get to the stairwell, striking him twice in the back. The one standing closest to me turned around as if to leave … and then he saw me. He immediately came down with the knife on to me.”
Ms Hedge said she had put her hands up to try to protect herself, but was stabbed in the neck.
Once the terrorists had left in search of more victims, she ran to the cellar entrance and was met by her partner who had been downstairs with customers.
She held a napkin over her neck wound before receiving medical help.
Extremists Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, killed eight people and injured 48 others as they rampaged through the streets of London Bridge on June 3 2017.
Kirsty Boden, 28, Xavier Thomas, 45, Chrissy Archibald, 30, Sara Zelenak, 21, James McMullan, 32, Sebastien Belanger, 36, Ignacio Echeverria, 39, and Alexandre Pigeard, all died in the attack.
They were killed as the terrorists drove a white van across London Bridge at pedestrians before going on a knife rampage through the streets around Borough Market.
The three attackers were then shot dead by police.
The inquest into the deaths of the victims continues.