A woman who risked her life to confront an armed man suspected of slaughtering a British soldier in broad daylight has described how she tried to calm him moments after the barbaric attack.
Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, 48, was on a bus heading through Woolwich in south east London yesterday afternoon when she spotted the stricken soldier lying bloodied in the road.
Her bravery - and that of others who tried to reason with the killers - has been praised, particularly in the wake of amateur footage from the scene, which shows one of the two suspects making political statements about the slaughter while still brandishing weapons.
Cub leader Ms Loyau-Kennett was speaking today ahead of a meeting by the Government’s emergency response committee, Cobra, which is due to discuss security measures following the attack.
Ms Loyau-Kennett, of Helston in Cornwall, told ITV Daybreak she initially thought the victim had been injured in a car crash after spotting a badly damaged vehicle on a pavement at the scene.
She said: “I went to the guy and when I approached the body there was a lady cradling him. And then (one of the killers), the most excited one of the two, said, ‘Don’t go too close to the body’.
“I thought, okay. And because I was down I could see a butcher’s knife and an axe - that’s what he had - and blood. I thought, what the heck? I thought obviously he was a bit excited and the thing was just to talk to him.”
Ms Loyau-Kennett said she tried to reason with the killer in an effort to focus his attention away from other potential victims, as large crowds began to huddle at the scene.
She said: “I know it’s big today but for me it was just a regular guy, just a bit upset. He was not on drugs, he was not drunk.
“He said, ‘Don’t touch, I killed him’. I said, ‘Why?’ He said: ‘He’s a British soldier. He killed people. He killed Muslim people in Muslim countries.’
“And I said: okay. So what would you like? I tried to maker him talk about how he felt. He said all the bombs dropping and blindly killing women, children...
“More and more people were starting to come. There were so many people around. I just looked around and I found it so daunting.”
However, Ms Loyau-Kennett said her thoughts were to “just carry on” talking to the man, while several woman arriving at the scene tried to shield the victim.
She said: “I wanted him to concentrate on me and make sure he doesn’t have a funny idea.
“He (the killer) told me he was a British soldier - he didn’t look like a British soldier to me, he wasn’t in uniform. But I thought if another one passes by, or is in the area...”
Asked if she was scared, the woman replied: “No - better me than a child.
“Unfortunately there were more and more mothers with children stopping around, so it was even more important I was talking to him and ask him what he wanted.”
Woolwich and Greenwich MP Nick Raynsford today praised the “extraordinary” bravery of members of the public who approached the killers. The men are currently in separate London hospitals being treated for injuries after they were shot by police at the scene.
Relatives of the dead soldier are believed to have been informed though he has yet to be named.
One of the attackers behind the barbaric killing was filmed wielding a bloodied meat cleaver, saying: “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you.”
In the chilling footage, he explains his terrifying actions.
“We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” he is heard to say in the clip, obtained by ITV News.
“I apologise that women have had to witness this today, but in our land our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your government, they don’t care about you.”
The attacker, who spoke clear English without a foreign accent, is then seen walking towards the victim, who is lying in the street. Another man is standing by the damaged car.
The incident occurred some 200 yards from the Royal Artillery Barracks, adjacent to Woolwich Common, the historical home of the Royal Artillery.
The barracks, also known as the Woolwich station, now houses a number of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery and independent companies of the Grenadier and Coldstream Guards.
A car believed to have been used in the attack was taken away during the night.
The blue vehicle, which appeared to have collided with a road sign in John Wilson Street, was covered with a red tarpaulin and taken away by a tow truck.