Saturday 16 December 2017

Teen reveals he tried to shield his grandfather during Tunisian terror attack which killed 38, including three Irish

Holidaymakers view flowers left on Marhaba beach where 38 people were killed in a terrorist attack in June 2015 in Sousse, Tunisia
Holidaymakers view flowers left on Marhaba beach where 38 people were killed in a terrorist attack in June 2015 in Sousse, Tunisia
Larry and Martina Hayes

Scott D'Arcy

An inquest has heard how a teenager tried to shield his grandfather from a rampaging gunman during the Tunisia terror attack which also claimed the lives of his brother and uncle.

Owen Richards, who was 16 at the time, was helping Charles Patrick Evans, 78, try to escape as extremist Seifeddine Rezgui hunted for victims in a hotel.

The attack also claimed the lives of three Irish people. Lorna Carty from Co. Meath and Athlone couple Larry and Martina Hayes all lost their lives in the incident.

An inquest into the deaths of the UK citizens killed in the terror attack has heard harrowing evidence from Mr Richards about how events unfolded.

Mr Evans, his son Adrian Evans, 49, and grandson Joel Richards, 19, were shot dead within 12 hours of arriving in the Sousse beach resort.

They were among 38 people killed by Rezgui at the five-star Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel on June 26 2015.

Inquests at the Royal Courts of Justice heard how the West Midlands family, who were enjoying the first day of a "boys' outing", fled from the outdoor pool area after hearing gunshots from the direction of the beach.

In a police interview in the UK, Mr Richards described how he had been sitting on a lilo in the pool when he heard what sounded like "firecrackers, but a lot deeper".

His brother Joel, an aspiring top-flight football referee, was sitting on the edge of the pool, and his uncle and grandfather were on sun loungers a short distance away.

As guests began to flee, both teenagers ran to the older men before making for the hotel.

Once inside they pressed the button for the lift but decided not to wait for it to arrive and ran to the indoor pool as Rezgui made his way around the corner.

Mr Richards told police: "On the way granddad kept falling over so he was not very fast.

"I saw the person running after us and he just came around the corner. Clearly we knew he had caught up with us.

"Ade (Adrian) dived down and laid down. I was still holding granddad, trying to help him run."

As the gunman approached, Mr Richards and Mr Evans, known to his family as Pat, fell to the floor.

"I was hugging granddad on the floor and then I could see out of my right hand corner my brother and seeing him dive to the floor," Mr Richards said.

"Then Joel screamed - I think he shouted 'no' three times, like pleading him to stop.

"He lifted the gun up and I closed my eyes, then I heard a bunch of shots."

Mr Richards described seeing Mr Evans was wounded before adding: "Granddad just said, 'he's got me'."

Rezgui moved closer and shot Mr Evans again at close range as Mr Richards was still clinging to his grandfather.

Realising his brother was lying nearby, Mr Richards said: "I hit his foot a few times, telling him to get up.

"You could see in his eyes that he was not alive - there was no life in his eyes."

His uncle was also lying motionless a little further away and Mr Richards ran to the neighbouring Soviva hotel before being taken in an ambulance for medical treatment for a wound on his left shoulder, believed to have been caused by a bullet.

The coroner, Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith, said: "It seems to me Owen behaved with extraordinary courage while trying to protect his grandfather."

Online Editors

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