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London Bridge inquest: Coroner says security services did not miss warning signs

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A coroner has not blamed authorities as he concluded Aussies Sara Zelenak and Kirsty Boden and six others were unlawfully killed in the London Bridge attack.

Security services did not miss opportunities to prevent the London Bridge attack and save the lives of eight people, including two Australians, even though the ringleader had been under surveillance for two years, a British coroner has concluded.

Australians Kirsty Boden, 28, and Sara Zelenak, 21, were murdered by Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba, who used a van to run down dozens of people on the bridge before stabbing dozens more with ceramic kitchen knives in the nearby Borough Market on the night of 3 June in 2017.

England and Wales Chief Coroner Mark Lucraft on Friday concluded that the two Australians, along with Canadian Christine Archibald, 30; Frenchmen Xavier Thomas, 45, Sebastian Belanger, 36, and Alexandre Pigeard, 26; Briton James McMullan, 32; and Spaniard Ignacio Echeverria, 39, were unlawfully killed that night.

The coroner said ringleader Butt's radicalisation had been noticed by his loved ones but not reported, and he was being watched by MI5 agents for two years leading up to the attack.

"Multiple warning signs about the extremist views and conduct of one attacker were known to a number of his close family members in the months and years before the attack. In the main, these were not reported to the authorities," Mr Lucraft said.

"One of the attackers was a subject of interest under active investigation by the security services at the time of the attack and for around two years before it. He was subject to surveillance in varying degrees but was not subject to live monitoring in the days immediately before the attack.

"The other attackers had not been identified before they carried out the attack together."

However, the coroner did not criticise MI5 or the police, or believe there were "missed opportunities" that could have prevented the attack.

"My finding is that the pre-attack investigations of MI5 and SO15 (Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command) were generally thorough and rigorous," Mr Lucraft said.

"On all the evidence and in the final analysis, I am not persuaded that investigative opportunities were lost which could realistically have saved the lives of those who died."

Following the coroner's conclusions, Met Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu condemned the trio's "vicious and evil actions".

"The criminals who killed these eight people should be forgotten, and forgotten quickly," he said.

"By contrast, those who were murdered were deeply loved and will always be remembered."

Mr Basu, who is also head of counter-terrorism operations, commended the selfless heroism of Ms Boden, Mr Echeverria, Mr McMullan and other ordinary people that night.

"Members of the public helped those who had been seriously injured, tried to distract, fight and stop these three men from attacking others," he said.

"Kirsty, a nurse, rushed outside to give urgent medical care to those who were injured, including Alexandre. Ignacio stopped to help police officers and members of the public as they were fighting the attackers, armed only with his skateboard.

CW from top left: Alexandre Pigeard, Sarah Zelenak, James McMullan, Kirsty Boden, Xavier Thomas, Christine Archibald, Ignacio Echeverría and Sébastien Bélanger.
CW from top left: Alexandre Pigeard, Sarah Zelenak, James McMullan, Kirsty Boden, Xavier Thomas, Christine Archibald, Ignacio Echeverría and Sébastien Bélanger.
Social Media / AAP

"James tried to help Sara up from the floor.

"They all paid the ultimate price as they all selflessly tried to help others."

Philippe Pigeard, whose son Alexandre was stabbed to death as he went to check the van after it crashed, said it had been an incredibly long process of trying to work out what happened that night.

"It's over now and despite a rigorous investigation, I still don't know precisely what happened to my son during the first attack," he said.

Mr Pigeard also said he believed that with the information known about Butt, and if bollards had been installed on London Bridge, the attack may have been prevented.

No protective barriers were put in place on the bridge despite a similar attack on Westminster Bridge three months earlier

"My son was good for humanity, he was gentle, he was marvellous, it's a big loss ... for every one of us (the victim's families)," Mr Pigeard added.

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