Tory MP Tobias Ellwood arrives at Westminster terror attack inquest

‘We closed the eyes and I said ‘I’m, sorry”: Hero Tory MP Tobias Ellwood tells terror inquest of the traumatic moment he realised PC Keith Palmer could not be saved after the officer was stabbed to death outside Parliament

  • Tory MP Tobias Ellwood is giving evidence at the inquest into the terror attack
  • The politician raced to the aid of PC Keith Palmer after he was stabbed  
  • He told how he stayed with his body, ‘closed the eyes’ and told him ‘I’m sorry’
  • He urged others to step forward to help to show that ‘no terrorist is going to win’

Tobias Ellwood pictured outside the Old Bailey this morning where he is giving evidence at the Westminster terror attack inquest

A hero MP who raced to the aid of a police officer stabbed to death in the Westminster terror attack told today of the moment he realised he could not be saved.

Defence minister Tobias Ellwood described the desperate few minutes he battled to keep PC Keith Palmer alive after he was knifed by Khalid Masood in March last year.

The Tory MP for Bournemouth East choked back tears as he told the inquest that after he passed away he stayed with his body, then ‘closed the eyes’ and told him ‘I’m sorry.’

Mr Ellwood was in Parliament when the terrorist stormed the gates of the Palace of Westminster and launched the fatal attack on PC Palmer.

Despite doctors performing open heart surgery on the stricken officer it quickly became clear PC Palmer would not survive his injuries. 

Giving evidence at the Old Bailey today he revealed he told a doctor that he would have to be ‘ordered’ to stop giving CPR. 

Mr Ellwood said: ‘A doctor then stated there was nothing more we could do.

‘That is when I looked at him and said ‘Sir, you are going to have to tell me to stop. You need to order me to stop. You need to make that decision’.

And he said ‘Sir, you have done your best, but you need to stop. There is nothing more you can do’.’

He recalled the ‘eerie silence’ that fell over the Palace of Westminster as it was placed into lockdown after the medics rushed to aid victims on the bridge, leaving him and another person alone with PC Palmer’s body.

An inquest heard rescuers desperately battled to save PC Palmer’s life as he lay stricken on the floor. Mr Ellwood is pictured, centre

‘We both tidied up the body as best we could, closed the eyes and then I said ‘I’m sorry’,’ Mr Ellwood said.

It was very, very silent, it was a strange end to a very traumatic four or five minutes, to be suddenly left alone with just one other person.’ 

Earlier he said he first became aware that something was wrong when he heard a ‘significant crash’ followed by ‘screams’.

‘These were not screams of pain, they were screams of shock, which is slightly different,’ he said.

PC Keith Palmer (pictured left) was one of five people to die at the hands of Khalid Masood (right), 52, in Westminster on March 22 last year

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Mr Ellwood then saw two waves of people with ‘panic in their eyes’ as he made his way to Parliament through the underground passageway.

‘They were shouting, ‘go, go, go, go’ and, ‘go back, go back’,’ he said, before his attention was drawn to the area where Pc Palmer was attacked.

‘My first observation was the number of armed officers that were pointing their weapons towards Carriage Gates,’ he said.

‘I have never seen so many armed officers with their weapons out in the Houses of Parliament.

‘Some, I think, were crouching in positions of protection, but all were aiming there weapons towards Carriage Gates.

Mr Ellwood at the scene of the stabbing (left) after he battled to save PC Palmer’s life (PC Palmer, right)

‘I could see there were two bodies lying in the ground and activity around both of them.

‘The nearest one was clearly a police officer with other officers attempting to give him support.’

Mr Ellwood said he stepped forward, making clear who he was to the armed officers, ignoring the risk to his own safety to help administer first aid.

He told how he assessed the officer’s wounds before commencing CPR, which he continued after paramedics and doctors from the helicopter ambulance team arrived.

Masood drove along the pavement of Westminster Bridge before running into the grounds of Parliament

Becoming emotional as he recalled the dramatic events when doctors opened Pc Palmer’s chest, he said: ‘Forgive me, it’s sometimes easier to do the helping rather than to talk about it afterwards.’  

He also told how he ignored fears of a second terror attack as he helped give first aid to a stabbed officer.

Mr Ellwood lost his brother Jon in the Bali bombing in the 2002 which claimed 202 lives – 27 of them British.             

Jon, a teacher, was in Bali for a conference when he was killed in the second of two blasts that tore through the nightclub area of Kuta.

The former soldier said that despite the risk that Masood may have had a bomb in his abandoned car, his main concern was giving help to the stricken PC.

Mr Ellwood pictured on March 27 last year, next to floral tributes left to the victims of the attack 

He said: ‘My brother was killed in a secondary attack in Bali… so I was very aware of that.

‘I was concerned about what would happen if things were to ratchet up, but my immediate concern was that we had somebody who was clearly badly bleeding and needed assistance.’  

During his rampage Masood, 52, killed Kurt Cochran, 54, Leslie Rhodes, 75, Aysha Frade, 44, and Andreea Cristea, 31, when he ploughed an SUV into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before stabbing Pc Palmer to death at the gates to the Palace of Westminster. 

Mr Ellwood also told the hearing that he believes members of the public should ‘step forward’ in the face of terrorist atrocities.

‘I know the official advice is to step back, report it. I find myself countering that somewhat, because if more of us do step forward as we saw in the Manchester attack, London Bridge and Westminster Bridge as well, the message gets through that no terrorist is going to win.’

If the Houses of Parliament become ‘a tower of protection’, it will ‘change the face of what Parliament is about’, he said.

Before the attack, there had at times been less firearms protection at the site than he would have liked, the Old Bailey heard, but now ‘the level of security we have in place, I’m not sure we could do more.’ 

Dr Antony Hudson, from London’s Helicopter Emergency Medical Service, described how he arrived at the Palace of Westminster and was directed to two patients in traumatic cardiac arrest – Pc Keith Palmer and attacker Khalid Masood, who had been shot by police.

He went towards the officer because patients with stab wounds have a better chance of being resuscitated, the Old Bailey heard.

Despite giving the 48-year-old a blood transfusion and operating on his open chest as he lay on the ground, there was no way that Pc Palmer could be saved, he said.

Dr Hudson said it would have been ‘nearly impossible to return a cardiac output’ to a patient in that condition. 

The hearing continues. 

Mother killed on the bridge ‘lived and breathed’ for her daughters

The husband of Aysha Frade said she had been ‘cruelly and brutally ripped away from us’

A mother-of-two killed in the Westminster terror attack as she walked from work on her way to pick up her children had a smile that was like the sun ‘popping out from behind a cloud’.

Aysha Frade’s husband John told the inquest into her death how the couple met at the gym in 1996, and described how he was immediately struck by her smile.

He said Aysha was ‘relaxed, fun to be around, laughing and smiling’, and greatly valued her family and close friends.

She loved her job as a PA at a school and was a devoted mother to her two daughters, the Old Bailey heard.

Mr Frade said the couple had plans for a big white wedding in 2006, but the idea was shelved when she became pregnant with their first daughter in 2005.

Keen to be married before she gave birth, the couple ‘grabbed two strangers from the street’ to be witnesses and were married in a 10-minute ceremony.

The inquest heard Mrs Frade ‘lived and breathed for her daughters’, and her husband was in awe of the balance she struck ‘between tender care and discipline’.

He told the court that she was a loving daughter to her aging mother who she visited every day.

Mr Frade went on: ‘The truth is that she still doesn’t feel like she’s gone, her love surrounds us, her aura lights up the paths of life’s journey.’

He said his wife had been ‘cruelly and brutally ripped away from us’.

Her sister Michelle also read an emotionally-charged statement to the hearing.

She said: ‘People cannot understand how this despicable act of futile atrocity has impacted on not only her families’ lives but also herself. She will never be able to smile again, see her daughters grow up.’

Mrs Grade had said she was worried about the risk of a terror attack when her job relocated near Westminster.

Her sister went on: ‘Aysha and all the other victims of this tragedy are people and not just statistics or a name that will be forgotten once this inquest is over.’

Retired window cleaner was killed on his way back from hospital

Leslie Rhodes, pictured in younger life, loved cricket, growing vegetables and music, his family have said

A retired window cleaner caught up in the Westminster terror attack was ‘placid, quiet and kind’, his inquest heard.

Pensioner Leslie Rhodes, 75, was on his way back from an appointment at nearby St Thomas’s hospital when he was killed.

His niece Amanda Rhodes told how the family were ‘devastated’ and ‘incredibly angry’ on hearing of his death.

She told how Mr Rhodes was born in Battersea, south-west London, as the youngest of three children.

‘Everyone loved him. He would do anything to help anyone who needed it,’ she said.

He loved his job as a window cleaner and would stop and enjoy tea with his customers before his retirement.

Ms Rhodes said he had a very private life and, despite his advancing age, continued to climb ladders and ride his bicycle, as well as enjoying cricket, growing tomatoes and listening to music.

His favourite Queen song – These Are The Days Of Our Lives – was played at his funeral, the hearing was told.

In a statement read out at the Old Bailey, she said: ‘Les will be greatly missed by all his family and friends who loved him. May he rest in eternal peace.’

Wife pays tribute to her hero husband who died saving her life

Mr Cochran was described as a ‘rock star’ and ‘hero’ by his family

The widow of American tourist Kurt Cochran, 54, has paid tribute to her ‘hero’, who died saving her life.

Mr Cochran and his wife Melissa were walking across Westminster Bridge when they were both hit by the rented car being driven by Khalid Masood, 52.

At an inquest into his death, Mr Cochran was described as a ‘rock star’ and ‘hero’ by those who knew him as pictures of him were displayed on two big screens.

He left behind a ‘legacy of love and compassion’ and spread joy to everyone he met, the Old Bailey heard.

Mrs Cochran was too upset to pay tribute to her late husband in person.

Her sister Angela Stoll read out a statement on her behalf on what would have been the day after Mr Cochran’s 56th birthday.

‘He was my best friend, my husband and my everything,’ she said.

‘I was so lucky to have had 25 wonderful years with the man of my dreams. He made me laugh every single day. I cherish every single memory we made.

‘I am forever grateful for the time we had together, allowing me to be the mother to his children and especially his heroic actions on that day, saving my life.’

Kurt Cochran and his wife Melissa. She said: ‘He was my best friend, my husband and my everything’

She described her husband as ‘my inspiration, my rock star, and most of all my hero’, adding: ‘We wish everyone had Kurt’s love and compassion for others.

‘No words will bring Kurt back or anyone else who has died senselessly in such cowardly attacks on humanity.’

Ms Stoll told how Mr Cochran grew up in the Sixties and Seventies when he developed ‘a profound love for all music’ and played the guitar from a young age, wanting to be a rock star.

He never fulfilled his dream, but nurtured musical talent through his recording studio, she said, and the family held a concert instead of a traditional funeral following his death.

‘We love you Kurt, more than the moon and stars,’ Ms Stoll said tearfully.

Romanian tourist had hoped 2017 would be ‘the best year of my life’ 

A Romanian tourist killed in the Westminster attack had written that she hoped 2017 would be the best year of her life.

Andreea Cristea, 31, died from her injuries after she was thrown into the Thames as she walked across Westminster Bridge with her boyfriend, Andrei Burnaz, on March 22 last year.

Her family, some of whom followed proceedings from the British Embassy in Bucharest, paid tribute to Ms Cristea on what would have been her 33rd birthday in an audio recording played in court.

She was described as a ‘lovely, enchanting and life-loving’ woman, who had a thriving interior design business.

Architect Andreea Cristea, pictured in London before the horrific terror attack

The statement from her family included a note from Ms Cristea, which was written on her final New Year’s Eve in which she told of her hopes for the coming year.

‘The year 2017 will be the best of my life,’ she wrote.

She hoped she would be ‘happy, cheerful and jovial’, have a successful business and buy a new house, which she planned on decorating.

‘I will have a wonderful man by my side, who will love and cherish me and with this man I will start a wonderful family,’ the note said.

Her family said they had been ‘hoping for a miracle’ when she was in hospital following the attack and told of their ‘heartbreakingly sad’ loss when she died two weeks later.

‘All her dreams were shattered when she went on her final trip to England, London, and she suddenly became the victim of the Westminster terror attacks,’ their statement said.

‘It is awful and heartbreakingly painful. The pain we felt and feel now cannot be expressed in words.’

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