London Bridge killer ‘had baby with him when he rented van for attack’

London Bridge killer’s wife says he had their 20-month-old baby with him when he told her he was ‘out with friends’ but was in fact renting the van they used for their terror attack that killed eight

  • Charisse O’Leary revealed Rachid Redouane was with daughter on day of attack
  • He took the child with him to rent a van from B&Q in Romford to east of London
  • Ms O’Leary told inquest revealed she had split up with Redouane in January 2017
  • He dropped the child off with her in Barking, East London hours before killings

The wife of one of the London Bridge killers broke down in tears today as she told an inquest how she left their baby daughter with him on the day of his attack – while she went to a family barbecue. 

Charisse O’Leary said Rachid Redouane, 30, told her he had been ‘out with friends’ but he was actually renting a Renault van from a B&Q in Romford to use in the attack, taking his daughter with him.

Later that day, on June 3, 2017, he went on to murder eight people on a rampage through London Bridge and Borough Market, along with Khuram Butt, 27, and Youssef Zaghb, 22.

Ms O’Leary told the inquest how she had met Redouane in a nightclub in Manchester in June 2010 and refused ‘from day one’ to convert to Islam.

Charisse O’Leary (left) said Rachid Redouane (right), 30, told her he had been ‘out with friends’ but he was actually renting a Renault van from a B&Q in Romford to use in the attack, taking his daughter with him.

The battered Renault van used by terrorists during the attack on London Bridge in 2017. After crashing, the vehicle was left with its bumper hanging off. Redouane rented the vehicle while with his daughter

They split up in January 2017, six months before the attack, after he struck her in an argument over baby milk, but he had never previously been violent, she added.

Ms O’Leary told the inquests into the deaths that the only sign of radicalisation she had seen in her husband was when he refused to let their daughter watch music videos ‘in case they turned her gay.’

But she broke down in tears as she described how he showed no reaction when she spoke about the death of children in the Manchester Arena attack, two weeks before Redouane and two others killed eight people at London Bridge.

She told the inquest she was ‘shocked that he was capable of doing something like that’.

In the week before the attack, Redouane saw his 20-month old daughter every day, apart from the day before the attack, taking her out for a particularly long day on June 1.

On Saturday June 3, the day of the attack, Ms O’Leary spent the afternoon at a family barbecue, leaving their daughter at her flat in Barking, East London with Redouane.

‘I got a changing bag ready. I had already given her lunch but I had cooked her tea,’ she said.

In the late afternoon he texted asking what time she was coming back and she messaged back: ‘Between 7pm and 8pm. Why, are you bored with her already?’

Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22 killed eight in a knife rampage near London Bridge on June 3, 2017 (pictured is the aftermath of the attack) 

Attackers Khuram Butt (left) and Youssef Zaghba (right) were shot dead by police alongside Rachid Redouane

Redouane told her he was ‘out with friends’ but he was actually with Khuram Butt and Youssef Zaghba as they rented a Renault van for their attack from B&Q in Romford, taking his daughter with him.

When Ms O’Leary arrived back at her flat at 7.15pm, less than three hours before the attack, she found Redouane waiting outside the block in Butt’s red Vauxhall Corsa.

‘I said where’s my daughter? Why is she wet? He said he didn’t have time to change her. [I said] carry her into the flat because I didn’t want to get wee all over me.’

Redouane carried his daughter inside and she said: ‘I asked him if he was seeing her tomorrow, he didn’t reply.’

Instead, Raedouane went to his pocket, said, ‘I’ve forgotten my phone’ and then ‘dashed,’ she said.

CCTV showed him running from the block and back to the car, to meet up with the other two men, who were in the van outside Zaghba’s flat.

Ms O’Leary realised Redouane had taken the baby walking reins with him and tried to ring him, then sent a message on Whatsapp, but he rejected the call and did not reply to the message.

Emergency services are pictured swarming London Bridge and the surrounding area on the night of the terror attack in 2017 

The trio hired this van (pictured in the hours after the attack) to mow down innocent people as they enjoyed an evening out in the London Bridge area

She knew nothing of what her husband had done until police raided her flat early the next morning. 

Asked if she had ‘any inkling he was capable of such behaviour’, Ms O’Leary said: ‘No.’

‘You agree no doubt that what Rachid Redouane did that night was a horror?’ Victoria Ailes, for six of the bereaved families asked.

‘Yes,’ she said.

Asked if she had ‘any clues’ about what her husband was about to do, Ms O’Leary said: ‘Nothing.’

‘As far as you are concerned his behaviour was normal throughout?’ Ms Ailes said.

‘Yes,’ Ms O’Leary replied.

During the inquest Ms O’Leary revealed the background to her relationship with Redouane – and how she had noticed not major signs of extremism during their time together.

However, his religion did cause tension in the family and her brother would not speak to her for six months before they married ‘because he was a Muslim’ she added.

‘I just thought they was good people. He would like me to have converted but that was never going to happen. I said it on day one it was never going to happen.’

This map shows the route the terrorists took as they murdered eight people in central London

In May 2013, after the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby, Redouane told his wife it was the ‘government’s fault’ she said.

Asked if it alarmed her, Ms O’Leary said: ‘Not at the time, I thought he was talking rubbish and I told him that.’

She would never meet his friends but would sometimes come home to find photos of her had been put away and work out from that he had been entertaining friends in the flat.

‘I was never around his friends because that was, as far as I knew, the way Muslims was,’ she said. ‘He never had his friends around when I was at home. I was never present.’

The relationship went downhill and he struck Ms O’Leary in an argument over the heating of their baby’s milk before they split up in January 2017, the inquest heard.

‘He become distant towards me and didn’t help me financially or emotionally,’ Ms O’Leary said.

In the last couple of months of their relationship, Redouane started to express some views about Western lifestyles, saying disapproving things about the way that people dressed on TV and that programmes might turn their baby daughter gay.

‘He didn’t like it if we had certain music channels or TV channels because if there was gay people there, he said it would turn her gay,’ she told the inquest.

When terrorist attacks happened in Britain, he tried to show her a video on Youtube that showed battle scenes in the Middle East.

‘He tried to show me but I didn’t want to watch it,’ she said. ‘Families, mothers, children. When there was attacks here, he would bring it up.’

Breaking down in tears, Ms O’Leary said, that at the time of the Manchester Arena attack in May, they had a short conversation: ‘He just said, ‘Did you see what happened in Manchester on the news?’ and I said, ‘Yeh, terrible’ because I remember the youngsters that had passed away. He didn’t comment.’

Asked if she was alarmed that Redouane was unmoved by the ‘horrific events in Manchester’, Ms O’Leary said: ‘No. He just didn’t comment back when I said it was terrible.’

The couple married in Dublin in December 2012 and lived together until Redouane returned to Morocco in autumn 2013.

Butt and his co-accused Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba drove this van, pictured moments before the attack, at pedestrians 

In Manchester, a flatmate said he noticed that Redouane was ‘critical’ of Jews and ‘didn’t like the Jews because they had been the cause of fighting between people,’ but Ms O’Leary said she was not aware of that.

He had also been critical of British culture being too liberal, especially in regard to women and didn’t want to bring up a family in this country, the friend said.

‘That was never brought up, we had a daughter,’ Ms O’Leary said.

Redouane returned to Morocco in late 2013 and she visited him there with his family in February and October 2014, meeting his parents and four siblings.

Eventually he applied for a visitor’s visa to Ireland and Ms O’Leary flew to Dublin where they lived together between February and August 2015.

Ms O’Leary worked as a live-in carer and Redouane worked nights in bakery, and Ms O’Leary became pregnant.

Redouane prayed regularly during Ramadan and wore Western clothes but there was no suggestion of extremist views about religion or world events, the inquest heard.

In September 2015 the couple moved to London and he was given residence rights in March 2016.

Redouane was said to be unhappy living with his mother-in-law and the pair ‘took housing’ in Barking, East London, Jonathan Hough QC, for the coroner said.

After that he began going to the mosque every day and Ms O’Leary told the inquest: ‘Where we lived before there was no mosque so he only went on Friday but when we moved there was more so he went more frequent.’

Rachid Redouane also visited a Lidl store in East Ham, London, to buy knives which were used in the killing spree

He wore a ‘dishdash’ at home, like pyjamas, but still went out in Western clothing, Ms O’Leary.

Just after their daughter was born in November 2015, Redouane began working at Cakes and Bakes in East Ham.

After they split up, Redouane would often come and look after his daughter after they split up and had moved into a shared house, driving a friend’s Vauxhall Corsa and attending a gym, Ms O’Leary said.

‘I knew he had met people from the gym and mosque but I didn’t know who they were,’ she added.

At the end of March he left his job at the bakery, and Ms O’Leary explained: ‘He told me his boss had changed his hours and it didn’t suit for him to come and see our daughter. I kept on at him to get another job.’

But just later that year, he went on to murder eight people on a rampage through London Bridge and Borough Market, along with Khuram Butt and Youssef Zaghb.   

The inquest continues into the deaths of Xavier Thomas, 45, Christine Archibald, 30, James McMullan, 32, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, Kirsty Boden, 28, Sebastien Belanger, 36, Sara Zelenak, 21, and Ignacio Echeverria Miralles de Imperial, 39. 

The eight victims killed in the London Bridge terror attacks

Ignacio Echeverria

Spaniard Ignacio Echeverria was stabbed to death as he tried to fight off the terrorist attackers with his skateboard.

The 39-year-old had been in the UK for over a year was working as a financial crime analyst at HSBC.

Mr Echeverria joined unarmed police constables Wayne Marques and Charlie Guenigault in fighting off the three attackers as they set upon Marie Bondeville, hitting at least one terrorist with his skateboard.

‘His courageous efforts were to seek to stop the attack,’ Chief Coroner Mark Lucraft said.

Kirsty Boden

Mr Echeverria was the youngest of five siblings and was a Catholic who went to mass every week. He could speak English, German and French fluently. 

Nurse Kirsty Boden was fatally stabbed as she tried to tend to the wounded and the dying.

Miss Boden, 28, moved to London in 2013 from the small town of Loxton, in South Australia.

She was a senior staff nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital and lived with her British boyfriend James Hodder in a flat in Hampstead.

Mr Hodder said: ‘She loved people and loved her life helping others. To Kirsty, her actions that night would have been an extension of how she lived her life.’ 

Alexandre Pigeard

Alexandre Pigeard was working as a waiter at Boro Bistro when he was attacked.

The 26-year-old Frenchman had moved to London to further his ambitions as a dance music DJ.

Minutes before he was fatally stabbed, he video-called his father Philippe during a break from work at the French restaurant.

Mr Pigeard had planned to return to France in the autumn of 2017 to help open a restaurant in Nantes and to record an EP with his musician father.

Mr Pigeard senior told the inquest: ‘I’m present here as a devastated father who has lost a child in such circumstances – an inconsolable father.’  

James McMullan

James McMullan was stabbed in the chest near the Barrowboy and Banker pub while he was celebrating getting financial backing for his online education company.

The British-Filipino entrepreneur was watching the Champions League final with friends in the pub.

The 32-year-old, from Hackney in East London, was attacked when he stepped outside to have a cigarette.

He had dreamed of helping children without access to education through his e-learning company.

Mr McMullan’s father Simon described his son as ‘funny, charming and clever’ and said ‘his fearlessness could never be underestimated’. 

Sebastien Belanger

The mother of chef Sebastien Belanger said she does not forgive the terrorists who ‘mutilated and killed him’.

Her 36-year-old son was drinking at the Boro Bistro when he was stabbed repeatedly in the chest.

His mother Josiane Belanger said: ‘We miss him so much, his smile, his joie de vivre. I do not forgive what they did to him.’

Originally from Angers in western France, Mr Belanger started work at the Coq d’Argent in the City and was promoted to the role of head chef. 

Australian au pair Sara Zelenak was on the ‘trip of a lifetime’ when she was stabbed to death while on a night out with a friend.

Sara Zelenak

Miss Zelenak’s mother Julie Wallace said ‘every sliding door’ put her daughter in ‘harm’s way’.

‘She was meant to be working and at the last minute she got the night off,’ Mrs Wallace said.

‘At 10pm Sara’s phone rang and her friend said ‘I’ve finished at the rugby’ and so she left her safe haven and walked out into a terrorist attack and was stabbed to death.’

Before leaving for UK in March 2017, Miss Zelenak worked with her stepfather Mark as a crane truck operator in Brisbane to save up for her trip.

Her parents have since set up Sarz Sanctuary to help other families to cope with grief.

Xavier Thomas

Xavier Thomas was walking over London Bridge with his girlfriend Christine Delcros when they were hit by the van.

The 45-year-old father-of-two was catapulted into the Thames and his girlfriend suffered life-changing injuries. His body was recovered downstream three days later.

Mr Thomas, who had arrived in London on the day of the attack, lived near Paris and worked for American Express.

Miss Delcros said: ‘Since Xavier disappeared in such tragic and traumatic circumstances our whole world has fallen apart.’

Canadian tourist Christine Archibald told her fiance Tyler Ferguson she loved him seconds before she was mowed down.

Christine Archibald

Miss Archibald and Mr Ferguson were walking across London Bridge after dinning at a nearby restaurant when the atrocity unfolded.

Her fiancé said: ‘At one point Chrissy stopped me out of nowhere, grabbed me close and gave me a passionate kiss after telling me she loved me.

‘I remember it being a warm summer’s evening and the sun had just gone down.. And then the attack took place and Chrissy was killed.

‘No words can express how I felt when this happened. I was absolutely devastated and inconsolable. Nothing has ever been the same since.’

Miss Archibald’s engagement ring was lost during the attack, but later recovered from the bridge. Mr Ferguson now wears it on a chain around his neck. 


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