London Bridge attack trio ‘had taken large quantities of steroids’

Members of the emergency services tend a person injured in the attack on London Bridge on 3 June 2017.

The three men who carried out the London Bridge terrorist attack had taken large quantities of steroids before killing eight people, a court has heard.

Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22 were shot dead by police after using a van to plough into pedestrians on the bridge and then stabbing people in nearby Borough Market on 3 June last year.

Before the attack, the three had all taken the steroid dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a pre-inquest hearing at the Old Bailey in London was told on Friday.

Last month a separate pre-inquest hearing into the Westminster Bridge attack revealed that the assailant, Khalid Massoud, had also taken steroids before killing five people. Four people were killed after Massoud drove a car into pedestrians on 22 March last year. He then fatally stabbed PC Keith Palmer, who was guarding an entrance to the Houses of Parliament, before being killed by armed police. 

Youssef Zaghba, Khuram Shazad Butt and Rachid Redouane.
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 Youssef Zaghba, Khuram Shazad Butt and Rachid Redouane. Composite: Metropolitan police/PA

In an apparent copycat attack, Butt, Redouane, and Zaghba also targeted pedestrians with a vehicle on another of the city’s bridges, before attacking people with knives.

Christine Archibald, 30, from Canada, and Xavier Thomas, 45, from France, were killed in the the van attack on London Bridge. Minutes later, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, Sara Zelenak, 21, Kirsty Boden, 28, Sebastien Belanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39, were stabbed to death. 

The victims of the attack: (top) Christine Archibald, James McMullan, Alexandre Pigeard and Sebastien Belanger (bottom) Kirsty Boden, Sara Zelenak, Xavier Thomas and Ignacio Echeverria.
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 The victims: (top) Christine Archibald, James McMullan, Alexandre Pigeard and Sebastien Belanger (bottom) Kirsty Boden, Sara Zelenak, Xavier Thomas and Ignacio Echeverria. Photograph: Metropolitan police/PA

Leading the inquest, the chief coroner of England and Wales, Mark Lucraft QC, started the hearing on Friday by expressing his condolences to the victims’ families, who were present at the court. He said he hoped the inquests would provide the families with answers and would give “comfort in such difficult circumstances”.

Jonathan Hough QC told the court that a toxicologist would be called to give evidence at their inquests next year after a steroid was found at high levels in their bodies.

He said: “Analysis of samples taken from the attackers revealed the presence of DHEA, a steroid hormone, above the acceptable physiological range in each of the attackers.

“These findings suggest use of the steroid DHEA recently prior to death, ie in a period ranging from several hours to days before death.”

Hough added: “A suitable expert has been instructed to prepare a report on the implications of these findings.”

About 1,800 witness statements have already been taken for the inquests.

Among those to be represented are the security services, police, fire authority and ambulance service as well as the families of both victims and attackers.

The inquests would examine what MI5 knew about Butt before the attack, the court heard.

The coroner ordered the inquests into the deaths of Butt, Redouane and Zaghba be heard separately to their victims during the pre-inquest hearing attended by family members.

Lucraft said he would first hear the inquests into the deaths of the victims at the Old Bailey in early 2019 followed by a jury inquest into the deaths of the the three assailants.

Victoria Ailes, a lawayer representing five of the victims’ families, said they were particularly concerned to find out about any CCTV footage or mobile phone film showing the attacks on their loved-ones. 

The hearing continues.

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