A customer told the taxi driver who survived the Liverpool terror attack “I have given you all my luck” before he picked up his next fare – the hospital bomber.
David Perry was injured but survived after the home-made bomb, carried by Emad Al Swealmeen, exploded in the back of his cab outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Remembrance Sunday.
Senior Coroner Andre Rebello gave details recalled by Mr Perry during the inquest at Liverpool and Wirral Coroner’s Court into the death of Al Swealmeen.
Mr Rebello said: “He recalls the last fare being on Allerton Road.
“He remembers a young girl specifically as she said to him ‘I have given you all my luck’ as she got out of the car.
“This really stuck in his mind and made him think how lucky he had been.”
The inquest heard that when Mr Perry approached Rutland Avenue, where Al Swealmeen rented a flat to build his bomb, he called his next passenger to check the number of the property and a male answered and confirmed the address.
A man came down the steps of the house and walked around the back of the car into the rear passenger seat, pushing himself up against the window and the door.
Mr Rebello said: “The only words he spoke were ‘Women’s Hospital’ in what Mr Perry describes as a foreign, Middle Eastern accent.”
The driver did not recall what the passenger was wearing other than a blue and white surgical mask, which meant he could not see his face, the inquest heard.
Mr Perry drove to the hospital and stopped outside the front entrance.
Mr Rebello continued: “As his car came to a stop he didn’t notice anything unusual, no warning, no movement from the passenger, just the blast.
“He described the journey as non-eventful, saying if the bomb hadn’t gone off he wouldn’t have remembered anything about the journey.
“David described pressing on the brakes, coming to a slow stop.
“As the vehicle stopped suddenly it felt like a wagon had crashed into the back of the car and he said he was thrown forwards and blacked out for a couple of seconds.”
When Mr Perry became conscious again he felt burning to his back.
“He could see smoke and smell burning plastic and the smell of burning body and thought ‘I’m dead if I don’t get out’,” Mr Rebello said.
“He saw light coming from the floor near his driver’s door and, without taking his seatbelt off, he pushed the door as hard as he could to force himself out of the car.
“He didn’t know if the passenger was still in there, he didn’t turn round to look at him.”
Mr Perry escaped from the car and staggered out, and a man wearing a hi-vis jacket approached him, the inquest was told.
The coroner said: “He recalls saying to him ‘the bastard tried to bomb me’.
“As he turned back to look at his car it went up and was on fire.”
Mr Perry suffered three fractures to the bottom of his back and damage to his eardrums.
The inquest heard that he told police: “I am gutted someone died but I don’t know nothing about the man. He didn’t care about me anyway, I was just another person to kill.”
Mr Rebello added: “I suppose he is probably one of the unluckiest taxi drivers around and yet possibly one of the luckiest given what could have been.”