Liverpool Women’s Hospital bomber Emad Al Swealmeen bought 2,000 ball bearings and rented a “bomb-making factory” to manufacture a device with “murderous intent”, an inquest has heard.
The Iraqi-born 32-year-old falsely claimed to be of Syrian heritage in asylum applications and was still a practising Muslim despite converting to Christianity, the hearing at Liverpool and Wirral Coroner’s Court was told on Thursday.
The inquest, which lasted about an hour, found Al Swealmeen died from an explosion and subsequent fire when the device detonated in the Ford Focus Delta Taxi, driven by David Perry who managed to escape after the blast, as it pulled up outside the hospital shortly before 11am on November 14.
Al Swealmeen lived at Home Office-provided accommodation in Sutcliffe Street, in the Kensington area of Liverpool, but since April had rented a self-contained flat in Rutland Avenue, where he paid the rent monthly in cash, the coroner’s court was told.
The inquest heard the flat was used as a “bomb-making factory”, and financial investigations showed Al Swealmeen had been purchasing materials likely to be used in the manufacture of improvised firearms or home-made explosives, including 2,000 ball bearings.
Senior coroner Andre Rebello recorded a narrative conclusion and said: “It is clear from the evidence even beyond the balance of probabilities this device could have only been manufactured with murderous intent, fortunately there was only one victim.”
He added: “It remains unclear as to whether he intended the device to detonate when it did.”
He said the bomber’s brother, who is living in America and was not named in court, had spoken to him on Friday, November 12, two days before he took the explosive in a taxi to the hospital on Remembrance Sunday.
Mr Rebello told the inquest: “He says towards the end of call Emad said something like ‘if I do something bad that will affect the family what do you think?’
“He replied something like ‘don’t do shit’, advising him as an older brother, although this was something which caused him concern, knowing his previous issues.”
The court heard Al Swealmeen had been in prison in the Middle East for a serious assault, as well as being convicted previously in Liverpool of possession of an offensive weapon.
He came to the UK in May 2014 legally, with a Jordanian passport and UK visa, the inquest was told.
Mr Rebello said: “Shortly after his arrival he claimed, it is believed falsely, that he was of Syrian heritage and claimed asylum as a refugee from that country.”
He said that claim and all subsequent claims for asylum were refused, with the latest refusal in November 2020.
While in the UK, Al Swealmeen, who was born in Baghdad, converted to Christianity and was confirmed at Liverpool Cathedral.
Asked if he may have converted to strengthen his asylum claim, Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Meeks from Counter Terrorism Policing North West said: “I’d agree with that because he would claim he’d be liable to persecution on return to Syria or Iraq.”
The inquest heard a Holy Koran and prayer mat were found when police searched his premises.
Mr Rebello said: “It was fairly evident that he carried out the religious duties of someone who is a follower of Islam, not withstanding the reported conversion to Christianity.”
Al Swealmeen had been assessed under the Mental Health Act in a five-month period in 2015 and in August was prescribed medication for low mood by his GP, the hearing was told.
The blast, captured on hospital CCTV, propelled ball bearings forward through the vehicle to the extent the front windscreen was forced out and travelled 16 metres, where it hit a tree, and damage was caused to the windows of the hospital building.