herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

'I never looked into his eyes, I just kept looking at the knife'

Schoolteacher Eva Murphy believed that either she or one of her friends was going to die after she came within two feet of the attacker at Leytonstone
Schoolteacher Eva Murphy believed that either she or one of her friends was going to die after she came within two feet of the attacker at Leytonstone
Police officers hold down the suspect at Leytonstone tube station
The knifeman at Leytonstone tube station

A young Irishwoman has spoken of the terrifying moment she came face to face with the crazed man at the centre of a London terrorist attack.

Eva Murphy believed that either she or one of her three friends was going to die after walking off a tube and into the path of the knife-man.

The schoolteacher from Ballylannon, Wellingtonbridge in Wexford told the Herald of how she saw the knife-man, with a blade sticking out from underneath his sleeve, slashing at commuters.

"I could see about three inches of it (knife) sticking out and it was drenched in blood.

"Another woman skimmed passed in front of us going into the station and he went for her neck and missed her. But he kept jabbing at her. We were screaming and crying. He got the woman," Ms Murphy said.

"I never looked into his eyes, I just kept looking at the knife. He was making such quick movements.

"He kept diving at people. He was in a position to get people coming into and going out of the station."

Cornered

Ms Murphy (24) added: "We genuinely did think one of us was going to die. People just started to panic. Because he was in an enclosed area he had people cornered if he wanted to."

London's Metropolitan Police are treating Saturday evening's stabbings as a "terrorist incident" amid reports that the suspect repeatedly shouted "this is for Syria".

The 29-year-old man was arrested after being tasered.

Ms Murphy and her friends had spent the afternoon in Oxford Circus and were returning to their home just a short distance from Leytonstone station when the drama unfolded.

"Coming off the tube there were a load of people on the platform but we just thought that there was a delay or maybe somebody had fallen.

"We walked through the crowd and then we saw a man on the floor. His eyes were rolling back in his head. We thought he had fallen down the stairs but there was a massive pool of blood.

"It looked like half the blood had left his body. There was a chain that looked like it had been cut straight through," Ms Murphy said.

The man was being helped by others so the group continued towards the exit when another man started shouting "not safe, run".

The 29-year-old knife-man was standing behind a whiteboard used to inform passengers of cancelled trains and at first Ms Murphy and her friends didn't notice him as his weapon was hidden.

Shouting

"We were standing two feet away from his knife but it wasn't registering what was happening. Another man who was trying to video it just kept shouting 'run, not safe'," Ms Murphy recalled.

An ambulance arrived to help the first man but the paramedics couldn't get past the attacker who at that stage "was trying to stab everybody".

"He was going for the neck. He never went any lower than the neck," Ms Murphy said.

"He definitely would have caught us if he had gone after us."

In the panic, Ms Murphy and two of her friends managed to run outside, while another went back on to a tube.

"As we ran I was screaming the name of the girl in front of me and the girl behind was screaming our other friend's name. When she started scream I thought he'd got her.

"She had got back on the tube but it went the wrong direction. She got a taxi back and is fine but we were really worried," Ms Murphy said.

"We are just so blessed that nothing happened to us. It was horrible. We're okay now but we were in a state of shock last night."

The most severely injured victim, a 56-year-old man, remains in hospital where his condition is described as stable.

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