Tuesday 17 October 2017

'They stood shoulder-to-shoulder like a little wolf pack' - Police officer who fought London Bridge terrorists

'That black cloud starts to come to your vision and starts closing in and closing in and I pretty much knew time was up'

Wayne Marques the British Transport Police officer who tackled the three knife wielding terrorists on London Bridge, recalls the night when he sustained several injuries on the 3rd June.John Stillwell/PA Wire
Wayne Marques the British Transport Police officer who tackled the three knife wielding terrorists on London Bridge, recalls the night when he sustained several injuries on the 3rd June.John Stillwell/PA Wire
Wayne Marques the British Transport Police officer who tackled the three knife wielding terrorists on London Bridge, recalls the night when he sustained several injuries on the 3rd June.John Stillwell/PA Wire
Wayne Marques the British Transport Police officer who tackled the three knife wielding terrorists on London Bridge, recalls the night when he sustained several injuries on the 3rd June.John Stillwell/PA Wire
Wayne Marques the British Transport Police officer who tackled the three knife wielding terrorists on London Bridge, recalls the night when he sustained several injuries on the 3rd June.John Stillwell/PA Wire
Wayne Marques the British Transport Police officer who tackled the three knife wielding terrorists on London Bridge, recalls the night when he sustained several injuries on the 3rd June.John Stillwell/PA Wire
Wayne Marques the British Transport Police officer who tackled the three knife wielding terrorists on London Bridge, recalls the night when he sustained several injuries on the 3rd June.John Stillwell/PA Wire

Aine Fox

A police officer has told how he fought off all three London Bridge attackers with just his baton after being blinded in one eye as they swiped at him with their knives.

Wayne Marques, who has spoken publicly for the first time since the terror attack earlier this month, said he thought he was going to die after being stabbed multiple times.

The British Transport Police officer was near the start of his Saturday nightshift and on patrol with a colleague in the area of London Bridge Station when he heard screams.

He said he knew something was wrong when he saw bouncers and customers queuing to get into a nearby bar standing "like deers in the headlights".

The 38-year-old, who was born in Birmingham but lives in south London, initially thought the disturbance was a pub fight that had spilled out onto the streets or maybe a gang fight "at the most".

He was approached by an off-duty Metropolitan Police officer who said he saw someone stabbed, and shortly afterwards Pc Marques himself witnessed people being attacked in Borough High Street near the junction with London Bridge Street.

Counter-terrorism officers march near London Bridge a day after the terrorist attack earlier
this month. Photo: Getty
Counter-terrorism officers march near London Bridge a day after the terrorist attack earlier this month. Photo: Getty

He said: "I remember grabbing my baton with my right hand and I racked (extended) it. I took a deep breath and I just charged the first one (attacker)."

He added: "As I got near him I swung at him with everything I had as hard as I could, straight through his head, trying to go for like a knock-out blow."

Wayne Marques the British Transport Police officer who tackled the three knife wielding terrorists on London Bridge, recalls the night when he sustained several injuries on the 3rd June.John Stillwell/PA Wire
Wayne Marques the British Transport Police officer who tackled the three knife wielding terrorists on London Bridge, recalls the night when he sustained several injuries on the 3rd June.John Stillwell/PA Wire

He said he heard the attacker "yelp in pain".

Pc Marques, who has since recovered his sight after being wounded just above his right eye, was stabbed numerous times, with the major injuries to his head, left leg and left hand.

A young girl leaves a message of support on the base of the obelisk on London Bridge following the terror attack in which eight people died. Photo: PA
A young girl leaves a message of support on the base of the obelisk on London Bridge following the terror attack in which eight people died. Photo: PA

The officer, who has worked with BTP for just under two years and was a PCSO with the Met for around six years beforehand, described the "instant darkness" when he was stabbed in the head by one of the terror trio.

"He'd hit me so hard that my right eye went lights out straight away, I just went blind."

Grief: Police officers lay flowers near the scene of the London Bridge terrorist attacks this week
Grief: Police officers lay flowers near the scene of the London Bridge terrorist attacks this week

In a fight that he believes lasted somewhere up to 90 seconds, Pc Marques, who had not long recovered from a football injury, was set upon by all three terrorists.

He said: "The second one and the third one I was basically fighting left to right, because I only had one eye so I'm moving left to right, left to right."

Wayne Marques the British Transport Police officer who tackled the three knife wielding terrorists on London Bridge, recalls the night when he sustained several injuries on the 3rd June.John Stillwell/PA Wire
Wayne Marques the British Transport Police officer who tackled the three knife wielding terrorists on London Bridge, recalls the night when he sustained several injuries on the 3rd June.John Stillwell/PA Wire

At that point he recalled being stabbed in the leg by the first attacker.

"I'm thinking: 'Sh*t, there's a knife in my leg while I'm fighting the second one and the third one.'"

After being stabbed in the hand he said he could remember little except for "swinging (my baton) all over the place".

Of his injuries at the time, he said: "I didn't realise how badly I was hurt. The adrenaline, the fighting, all of that, I could feel what they were doing to me but I couldn't feel it at the same time.

"I could just feel that I'd been cut and hurt."

In a surreal moment seconds later he described how the attackers - Youssef Zaghba, Khuram Butt and Rachid Redouane - stood facing him.

He said: "And the three of them were standing together almost shoulder-to-shoulder in like a little wolf pack and they're staring at me. And that's when I get to size them up.

"The short one that was on the right-hand side, he was the one that I heard saying 'Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar'. He said it a few times, eyes bulging."

He added: "And I'm basically just like a cowboy western movie waiting for the draw, waiting for them to make their move."

For reasons he said he did not know, the attackers instead rushed off towards Borough Market where they continued their rampage.

As his colleague sent a radio message through saying "officer down", Pc Marques told him: "Go get 'em, you've got to go get 'em."

Other officers rallied round and Pc Marques said he sat down, then lay on the ground and began to feel a "black cloud" descend as minute by minute he found it more difficult to stay conscious.

He said: "That black cloud starts to come to your vision and starts closing in and closing in and I pretty much knew time was up."

He told a colleague to pass on his last messages to his parents, partner and the rest of his family as he prepared to die.

He said: "That was it. Time was up. It's hard to explain what you kind of think and feel at the time."

His next clear memory is waking up in hospital, feeling a mixture of relief, shock and surprise.

After a number of operations, Pc Marques was discharged from hospital on Friday, almost three weeks after the attack and now takes about 25 pills each day.

He cannot walk unaided, has a scar above his eye, struggles to grip with his left hand, and has lost feeling in the right side of his head where nerves were severed.

Looking to the future, he said: "Hopefully with the right help and the right care, I'll get my legs back - that will be a great feeling, I am looking forward to getting my legs back definitely."

He is still unsure on parts of what happened and said it is "fascinating" that his mind may have blanked out some of the most painful details.

He paid tribute to colleagues who helped him on the night and the medical staff who have looked after him since.

On going back out on to the street as a BTP officer, he said his family and partner do not want him to return to that role, saying: "You've done enough."

He himself said it is too early to say whether he will be capable of being a police officer again.

He said: "That decision may be taken out of my hands depending on what state I'm in in the months ahead.

"When that bridge comes, I will make that decision. The only clear answer I have for you about being a police officer is it's what I'm good at. I'm good at what I do."

In the days after the attack, a statement was released on behalf of Pc Marques in which he said he wished he could have done more to save people.

Speaking on Wednesday, he said: "Am I a hero? I guess in a lot of people's eyes I am but there are still eight people that lost their lives and many more that got wounded.

"By the time I got there some of them were already dead and dying. I couldn't help everybody.

"Being a hero was the last thing I was thinking about. Even fighting terrorists was the last thing I was thinking about. All I was trying to do was keep people alive. That was my job, keep people alive. And that's what I did, that's what I tried to do."

All three attackers were shot by police who arrived on the scene within minutes of the first emergency calls being made.

Pc Marques said a lot of people have been affected by the horrific experience, not least the victims of those who died and the dozens injured, but said he also has some sense of sympathy for the attackers' families.

He said: "I can quite easily assume and understand that they're going to be going through a sense of their own turmoil at what a member of their family has done, is capable of doing."

The three killers' inquests were opened and adjourned at Southwark Coroner's Court on Tuesday.

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