“Barbarians” took the life of a French father-of-two who was killed during the 2017 London Bridge attack, his family have told an inquest into the deaths.
Xavier Thomas, 45, was one of eight people killed when three men drove a van into pedestrians and stabbed others in Borough Market on 3 June. He was hit by the van as he walked across the bridge and was found three days later in the River Thames. His family paid an emotional tribute to him on the first day of the inquest.
His girlfriend Christine Delcros, who was also struck and seriously injured during the attack, wept as she told the Old Bailey: “Since Xavier disappeared in such tragic and traumatic circumstances our whole world has fallen apart.”
Mr Thomas, who had two children from a previous marriage and lived near Paris, had arrived in London on the day of the attack. His father said: “Barbarians, who can in no way be described as humans, took his life and destroyed his family. “With such an emotional shock we have been totally devastated in the way he has been taken from us. “We all feel lost and are experiencing a great void without Xavier.”
Tributes to all the victims will be heard on the first day of the inquest.
Those who were killed were James McMullan, 32, from Hackney in London, French trio Mr Thomas, 45, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, and Sebastien Belanger, 36, Canadian Chrissy Archibald, 30, Ignacio Echeverria, 39, from Madrid, and Australians Sara Zelenak, 21, and Kirsty Boden, 28.
In his opening statement, Judge Mark Lucraft QC told the court that lives were torn apart in “10 minutes of high and terrible drama”. The chief coroner said he hoped the inquest would answer the relatives’ “obvious and understandable questions”.
The eight-week hearing into the deaths of the victims will be followed by a separate three-week hearing for the inquests of their killers – that will be in front of a jury.
The attackers, Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, were shot dead by police at the scene.
The hearings will examine the circumstances of each of the deaths, as well as how the leader of the attack – Butt – was able to plan it, even though he was the target of an MI5 investigation. They will also look into issues including why were there no barriers to protect pedestrians on the bridge, more than 10 weeks after the Westminster Bridge attack.