Taxi driver who survived terror attack told 'I've given you my luck'

Hero taxi driver who survived Liverpool Women’s Hospital terror attack was told ‘I’ve given you all my luck’ by his last customer before he picked up suicide bomber, inquest hears

  • Liverpool Women’s Hospital bomber died from the explosion and fire
  • Emad Al Swealmeen, 32, detonated a homemade bomb outside the hospital 
  • Police said the bomb used was a homemade explosive with ball bearings 
  • The taxi driver who survived a Liverpool terror attack on Remembrance Sunday was ‘given all the luck’ by his last customer before the blast.

    David Perry miraculously managed to escape after his Delta taxi exploded outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Sunday, November 14.

    The bomber, Emad Al Swealmeen, 32, died when his homemade explosive went off in the back of the Black Ford Focus.

    The device, which was designed by Al Swealmeen at his flat in Rutland Avenue, near Sefton Park, contained around 1000 ball bearings which shattered the car windscreen and propelled forward 16 metres.

    An inquest into the death of Iraqi-born Al Swealmeen held yesterday at Liverpool and Wirral Coroner’s Court heard that the device was manufactured with ‘murderous intent.’

    Senior Coroner Andre Rebello said: ‘At 10.58 on Sunday 14th November a call was made to Merseyside Police stating that a black Ford Focus Delta taxi had exploded outside the entrance to Liverpool Women’s Hospital and the sole rear side passenger was deceased.

    David Perry miraculously managed to escape after his Delta taxi exploded in November

    David Perry miraculously managed to escape after his Delta taxi exploded in November

    Police said the bomb used was a homemade explosive with at least 1,000 ball bearings

    Police said the bomb used was a homemade explosive with at least 1,000 ball bearings

    Emad Al Swealmeen, 32, detonated a homemade bomb outside the hospital in the attack

    Emad Al Swealmeen, 32, detonated a homemade bomb outside the hospital in the attack

    ‘CCTV of the scene showed the taxi driver stopping within the car park at the hospital when there was an immediate explosion.’

    The taxi driver, David Perry, who survived the blast, suffered from serious injuries including three fractures to the bottom of his back and ear drum damage.

    The inquest heard a harrowing account from Mr Perry as he recalled the moments leading up to and after the blast during an interview with counter-terrorism police.

    Senior Coroner Mr Rebello told the inquest the taxi driver had dropped off his last fare off at an address on Allerton Road at 11.35am on November 14, when he saw another job pop up on his phone for Rutland Avenue.

    Mr Rebello said: ‘He remembers his last fare being in Allerton Road.

    He remembers a young girl specifically as she said to him ‘I’ve given you all my luck.’ This really stuck in his mind and he realised how lucky he’d been.’

    The inquest heard that when Mr Perry approached Rutland Avenue to collect his next customer, he called him to check the number of the property and a man answered and confirmed the address.

    The 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.

    Emad Al Swealmeen, 32, detonated a homemade bomb outside the hospital just before 11am on November 14, killing himself and injuring taxi driver David Perry

    In an aerial view, the scene of the car explosion at Liverpool Women's Hospital is seen on November 17, 2021

    In an aerial view, the scene of the car explosion at Liverpool Women’s Hospital is seen on November 17, 2021

    Mr Rebello said: ‘The only words he spoke were ‘Women’s Hospital’ in what Mr Perry describes as a foreign, Middle Eastern accent.’

    Mr Perry described the journey as ‘non eventful’, saying if the bomb hadn’t gone off he wouldn’t have remembered anything about the journey.

    He could not see the passenger’s face as he was wearing a blue and white surgical mask, the inquest heard.

    Mr Perry drove to the hospital from Rutland Avenue and stopped outside the front entrance to the hospital in the car park.

    Mr Rebello said: ‘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 his car and said that he was thrown forwards and blacked out for a couple of seconds until he came around.

    ‘When he became conscious again he immediately felt burning to his back and the back of his head and left arm.

    ‘He could see smoke and smell smoke, burning plastic, and the smell of burning body and thought “I’m dead if I don’t get out”.

    ‘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.’

    As Mr Perry escaped the car, he staggered, confused, when a man wearing a high-visibility jacket came to help him.

    The first words the taxi driver recalls saying to the man were ‘the b****** tried to bomb me.’

    Mr Rebello said: ‘As he went back to look at his car it went up – it was on fire.’

    Around 1,000 ball bearings were propelled forwards during the blast which shattered the windscreen of the taxi and caused damage to windows of the Women’s Hospital.

    Mr Perry was taken into the Women’s Hospital after the blast but later discharged himself.

    The inquest heard the taxi driver told nurses at the hospital that they should give the available hospital beds to elderly people in the waiting room ‘as he wasn’t a priority.’

    The black Ford Focus Delta taxi that Mr Perry was driving that day was usually driven by several self-employed taxi drivers and he was just one of them.

    In a police interview after the explosion, Mr Perry said: ‘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.’

    Senior coroner Andre Rebello said: ‘Clearly after the incident he was running on adrenaline and it’s possibly only now that the full affects of the trauma will start to hit him.’

    ‘I suppose he is probably one of the unluckiest taxi drivers around and yet possibly one of the luckiest given what could have been.’

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