Stu­dent vic­tim bridge at­tack: there, peo­ple

Ormskirk Advertiser - - Front Page - BY EMILY PENNICK news­desk@os­ad­ver­ @SeftonE­cho

ASURVIVOR of the West­min­ster ter­ror­ist at­tack has de­scribed the “sick re­ac­tion” of by­standers who stopped to take gory pic­tures rather than help.

The im­ages taken with mo­biles and selfie sticks were then posted on so­cial me­dia, com­pound­ing the mis­ery of vic­tims’ fam­i­lies, the Old Bai­ley heard.

Gareth Pat­ter­son, QC, rep­re­sent­ing fam­i­lies of the vic­tims on the bridge, said graphic pic­tures of Aysha Frade’s body be­neath the wheels of a bus caused “real dis­tress to the fam­ily”.

He said it showed a “rather shock­ing dis­re­gard” for the dig­nity of ca­su­al­ties, adding: “De­spite ef­forts to have them taken down be­cause of the dis­tress caused, to this day there are im­ages on the in­ter­net.”

Peo­ple also took snaps of Ro­ma­nian in­te­rior de­signer An­dreea Cris­tea as she lay face down and un­con­scious in the Thames for five min­utes, the in­quest was told.

As well as the four fa­tal­i­ties on the bridge, 29 oth­ers suf­fered se­ri­ous in­juries from be­ing struck by Khalid Ma­sood’s hired SUV.

Travis Frain, 20, a stu­dent at Edge Hill Univer­sity in Orm­skirk, was among the in­jured not called to give ev­i­dence at the in­quest.

In an in­ter­view with the Press As­so­ci­a­tion, he said: “I re­mem­ber al­most im­me­di­ately, af­ter I was hit by the car, there were lines of peo­ple in the win­dows of the bus film­ing and tak­ing pic­tures and video.

“It was not nice. I would like to think most peo­ple would help but I think in this day and age the nat­u­ral re­ac­tion for a lot of peo­ple is to get out your cam­era and start film­ing.

“It’s a bit of a sick re­ac­tion. It’s not ev­ery­one. There were some amaz­ing peo­ple who ran over to help us and the peo­ple on the bus would not have been able to get off the bus.

“I think per­son­ally I would not just sit there as a spec­ta­tor tak­ing videos.”

Mr Frain also re­ceived death threats and abuse from on­line trolls, ap­par­ently sparked by footage of him hob­bling away, de­spite suf­fer­ing a bro­ken leg.

He said: “Over the course of the last year and a half, I re­ceived a num­ber of mes­sages from dif­fer­ent peo­ple, dif­fer­ent ac­counts. The worst ones were at the start. I re­ceived a cou­ple of death threats say­ing they were go­ing to hang me and they know where I live.

“Some said the at­tack was fake and we were all paid ac­tors and some said the at­tack was real.

“An­other was sent to my place of work, say­ing, ‘this man has faked be­ing in a ter­ror at­tack. I’m go­ing to re­lease the ev­i­dence soon. If you do not fire him it will af­fect your busi­ness re­la­tions. It would look bad’.

“I have con­sis­tently told peo­ple that, af­ter be­ing hit by the car, I got up and walked off. Paramedics put it down to adren­a­line. I had a bro­ken leg and I just hob­bled off.”

Mr Frain said he re­ported the death threat to po­lice but no-one had been charged.

On the ef­fect of the abuse, he said: “Col­leagues just came up to me and said jok­ingly ‘it looks like you’ve got a bit of a nut job here, we felt you ought to see it any­way’. It does feel un­easy. Peo­ple are prob­a­bly not go­ing to be­lieve them, but what if some­body does ques­tion it?”

The his­tory and pol­i­tics stu­dent said he had made re­ports to Face­book and blocked abusers on Twit­ter, although the ma­te­rial was still “out there”.

Lawyer Jill Green­field, head of per­sonal in­jury at Field­fisher, is rep­re­sent­ing Ms Cris­tea’s boyfriend An­drei Bur­naz and oth­ers whose lives have been shat­tered by the events of March 22 last year.

She said: “What has, at times, been the most de­spi­ca­ble be­hav­iour il­lus­trates the worst side of so­cial me­dia by pro­vid­ing a plat­form to air deroga­tory com­ments.

“Such com­ments and the ar­bi­trary use of per­sonal in­for­ma­tion per­pet­u­ates the trauma for those al­ready suf­fer­ing the atroc­ity of ter­ror­ism.

“Ter­ror­ism works on enough lev­els of harm with­out so­cial me­dia adding to that pain.”

She added: “Our client An­drei Bur­naz was ex­tremely up­set when the press ran­sacked his and An­dreea’s Face­book ac­counts and pub­lished per­sonal pic­tures and in­for­ma­tion.”

None of the graphic CCTV or pic­tures shown at the Old Bai­ley in­quest was re­leased to the pub­lic.

Edge Hill Univer­sity stu­dent Travis Frain – ap­palled by the ‘sick re­ac­tion’ of passers-by us­ing their phones to take pic­tures of ca­su­al­ties af­ter the West­min­ster Bridge at­tack in March last year

Ter­ror­ist Khalid Ma­sood

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