Daily Express

Ex­cuses need to stop, griev­ing fa­ther tells Manch­ester in­quiry

- By Chris Riches

THE griev­ing fa­ther of the Manch­ester Arena at­tack’s youngest vic­tim has said her death can­not just be a “prac­tice” for the se­cu­rity and emer­gency ser­vices.

Heart­bro­ken An­drew Rous­sos, fa­ther of eight- year- old Saffie- Rose, stressed that lessons “should have al­ready been learnt” af­ter the 7/ 7 and 9/ 11 ter­ror at­tacks.

Sal­man Abedi, 22, det­o­nated his sui­cide bomb in the foyer of the venue just as an Ari­ana Grande pop con­cert fin­ished in May 2017.

A pub­lic in­quiry has al­ready heard of emer­gency ser­vices’ de­lays in treat­ing vic­tims and how MI5 was “tipped off” about Abedi months be­fore he struck.

An­drew de­manded in­quiry chair­man Sir John Saun­ders make sure MI5 and emer­gency ser­vices do not sim­ply view the disas­ter as another “prac­tice ex­er­cise”.

Saffie- Rose’s mother Lisa was se­ri­ously wounded in the blast.

An­drew said: “The fail­ures we are all lis­ten­ing to and the ex­cuses we will all sit through, need to stop. Enough is enough, sir. If we are still learn­ing lessons then noth­ing will ever change.

“The big­gest wake- up call should have come from 7/ 7 and 9/ 11.

“Saffie’s life is not a prac­tice ex­er­cise for the se­cu­rity or emer­gency ser­vices. Lessons should have al­ready been learnt.”

Speak­ing af­ter the hear­ing An­drew, of Ley­land, Lancs, said: “Ev­ery­thing went wrong and it’s not good enough. It’s so, so dread­ful.”

Re­fer­ring to a mock ter­ror at­tack staged by the au­thor­i­ties in the Arena foyer the year be­fore Abedi’s at­tack, he said: “Why have these ex­er­cises? Tick­ing boxes? I’m sorry, but Saffie is not a box to tick.”

His wife re­vealed the mo­ment she woke from a coma to be told Saffie had died. Lisa said: “The day I woke up An­drew held my hand and looked up at me, I in­stantly knew. ‘ Saffie has gone, hasn’t she?’ He replied: ‘ Yes.’ I cried and pleaded with him to let me die too. ‘ I can look af­ter her’, I cried. In­side I am dead. My heart is so heavy, it weighs

‘ Ev­ery­thing went wrong and it’s not good enough... it’s so, so dread­ful’

me down. I am so des­per­ate to hold her close.”

She said Saffie played cen­tre stage in her fam­ily and if she had to choose three words to de­scribe her, they would be “beau­ti­ful, cap­ti­vat­ing and kind”. Saffie’s sis­ter Ash­lee Bromwich said: “She was a born en­ter­tainer and I knew for the rest of her life she would live to put a smile on ev­ery­body’s face.”

The in­quiry also heard how the fam­ily of Wendy Fawell, 50, en­dured “dou­ble heartache” when her fa­ther died 11 months af­ter the bomb­ing.

Wendy, a for­mer pri­mary school worker from Ot­ley, West York­shire, was the “life and soul of the party”, her fam­ily said.

They added: “She tried to mother ev­ery­one. She was just a nice and car­ing per­son that way.”

The mother of vic­tim Olivia “Ol­lie” Camp­bell- Hardy, 15, of Bury, Greater Manch­ester, told how her daugh­ter pas­sion­ately wanted to be­come a song and dance teacher. Char­lotte Hodg­son said: “Ol­lie had re­ally wanted to make mu­sic her ca­reer ei­ther as a singer on the West End or as a mu­sic teacher.

“It al­ways had to be about mu­sic. She told me she was go­ing to be fa­mous one day and she wanted a big house in New York.”

She added: “To the world she is one of the 22 an­gels. Not to me. She is Ol­lie. She will never be just a num­ber.”

The pub­lic in­quiry con­tin­ues un­til next spring.

 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Saffie- Rose Rous­sos was the youngest of the 22 vic­tims of the Manch­ester Arena at­tack. Her mother Lisa, pic­tured left at Saffie’s funeral, was se­ri­ously wounded in the blast
Saffie- Rose Rous­sos was the youngest of the 22 vic­tims of the Manch­ester Arena at­tack. Her mother Lisa, pic­tured left at Saffie’s funeral, was se­ri­ously wounded in the blast
 ??  ?? An­drew Rous­sos said lessons should have been learnt
An­drew Rous­sos said lessons should have been learnt

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK