The father of the youngest victim of the Manchester Arena bombing has told the public inquiry that lessons on terrorist attacks “should have been learned and in place” after 9/11 and the 7 July 2005 bombings in London.
Andrew Roussos said his daughter Saffie Rose, who was eight when she was killed in the explosion on 22 May 2017, was “not a practice exercise” for security and emergency services.
He made the comments to the inquiry chairman, Sir John Saunders, after family and friends had delivered tributes to Saffie, described as “so pure and innocent she melted people’s hearts”.
Roussos, from Leyland in Lancashire, said living without his daughter had been like an “out-of-body experience”, adding that “never will there be another Saffie”.
Her parents’ testimony culminated in her mother, Lisa – who was injured as she accompanied Saffie to the Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena – telling of the moment she woke from a coma to be told Saffie had died.
“I did die that day, inside I’m dead. My heart is so heavy, it weighs me down,” she said in a video tribute.
After tearfully listening to his wife recall how she had pleaded with him to let her die when she learned of their daughter’s death, Roussos stood up at Manchester magistrates court and interjected.
“With the highest respect I feel I need to say this,” he told the inquiry. “What we are all going through, the failures we are all listening to and the excuses we will all sit through, needs to stop.
“Enough is enough, sir. At present in 2020, if we are still learning lessons then nothing will ever change. The biggest lesson and wake-up call should have come from 7/7 and 9/11.”
Earlier, the inquiry had heard how the family of Wendy Fawell, 50, an after-school club manager from Otley in West Yorkshire, had been left “totally heartbroken” after she was killed in the attack. They said the mother-of-two had loved being a parent and had “tried to mother everyone”, leaving the children she cared for at work bewildered following her death.
“She enjoyed reading and spending time with her family and friends. She had so much to live for and she gave so much of herself,” they said. “How can anyone put into words the devastation of losing a loving daughter, mother and friend in such tragic, insane circumstances? The loss is indescribable. We have never felt such grief.”
Fawell’s mother, Julia, said she had endured “double heartache” when her husband died 11 months after the attack. She told the inquiry he could not get over his daughter’s death, adding: “I like to think he is with her now doing what he always did: looking after her.”