‘Sliding doors’ led to Aussie’s murder
THE mother of London Bridge terror victim Sara Zelenak has told an inquest that "every sliding door slid for Sara to be in harm's way" on the night she was brutally murdered.
Ms Zelenak, 21, and Kirsty Boden, 28, both Australians, were killed in the June 3 attacks when Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba, drove a van into pedestrians on the bridge before going on a frenzied stabbing attack at the nearby Borough Market.
Both women were stabbed to death, Ms Boden while rushing to help victims. The three men were fatally shot by police after killing eight people and injuring a further 48 in less than 10 minutes.
An inquest into the attack began last night at London's Central Criminal Court, also known as Old Bailey, before Chief Coroner Judge Mark Lucraft, QC.
Ms Zelenak's mother, Julie Wallace told the court of the grief that overcame her after the loss of her "loving", "sporty" daughter who had moved to London to work as an au pair just months before her death.
"On that fatal night every sliding door slid for Sara to be in harm's way," Mrs Wallace said.
"She was meant to be working and at the last minute got the night off."
Mrs Wallace said her daughter's plans had changed throughout the night, but she eventually ended up at the Borough Market where she was fatally stabbed.
Mrs Wallace said her daughter's death had inspired her and her partner Mark Wallace to start their own charity, Sarz Sanctuary, which is working towards opening holistic healing sanctuaries for people suffering traumatic grief.
In 2018, the couple organised a seven-day bike ride from the London Bridge to the Eiffel Tower, where they were supposed to meet their daughter for a holiday 26 days' after her death.
They have organised another charity ride this year called Meet Me in Paris, which will begin on June 23.
One by one, photos of the deceased were shown to the packed court as their families read pen portrait statements detailing the immense losses they had suffered.
In his opening address, Judge Lucraft told the court Australian Kirsty Boden, who grew up in the small South Australian town of Loxton, was eating dinner nearby with friends when the horror began to unfold.
Instead of running away, the Guy's Hospital nurse ran to help victims.
Boden was dubbed the 'Angel of London Bridge' by local media and posthumously awarded an Australian Bravery Decoration as well as the Queen's Commendation for Bravery.
Boden's parents Ken and Tina broke their silence to tell how they will miss Sunday "Skype nights" with their daughter, saying "there's a hole in our hearts that will never heal".
"On our visits to London to see our amazing girl, Kirsty was our guide showing us her
London and surrounding towns. All Kirsty's patience was required as she took her country parents from city to village. We had so much fun during our time spent together and it has given us so many precious memories."
Boden's boyfriend James "Jimbo" Hodder said he was not surprised that his girlfriend rushed to help others that night.
"Kirsty was so brave. We already knew that, she had demonstrated that countless times throughout her life. Her actions that night do not surprise anyone who knew her. To Kirsty it wouldn't have seemed brave. She loved people and lived her life helping others. To Kirsty, her actions that night would have just been an extension of how she lived her life. We are so unspeakably proud of her and not a day goes by that we are not in awe of her bravery that night," he said. "Without Kirsty in our lives it almost feels at times impossible to go on. The hole left in our lives feels almost like a wound, and our wounds will never fully heal. Life will never be the same again. But, at the times when life feels hard, we know we just have to ask ourselves what Kirsty would do. Life now feels uncertain, but wherever we go we take the memory of Kirsty with us."
The inquest will examine the deaths of the victims and is expected to run for 10 weeks, followed by a three-week inquest into the deaths of the attackers.
Witnesses regarding Zelenak and Boden are scheduled to speak on May 13 and 17 respectively.