The London Bridge attackers were unlikely to have become more aggressive as a result of taking bodybuilding steroids before their rampage, an inquest has heard.
The three terrorists used a hire Renault van to plough into crowds on London Bridge and then stabbed revellers in Borough Market with 12-inch ceramic knives on June 3, 2017.
Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22 – were then shot dead by police less than 10 minutes after the rampage.
Toxicologist Professor David Cowan rejected the suggestion they had been ‘juiced up’ on steroids, in order to make them more aggressive.
Jonathan Hough, QC, counsel for the coroner, asked: ‘What is the chance of the use of steroids affecting one or more of them behaviourally?’
The three terrorists ploughed into crowds on London Bridge and then stabbed revellers in Borough Market with 12-inch ceramic knives on June 3, 2017. Picture shows the CCTV footage issued by the Metropolitan Police of the van they used
Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba were ‘likely to have taken bodybuilding steroids’ – but the drugs didn’t make them more aggressive, an inquest has heard
A map of the London Bridge area shows where each of the victims were injured
Prof Cowan said DHEA, an anabolic steroid, was more likely than not administered to the attackers before they carried out the attack.
But he said he thought it’s ‘highly unlikely’ that steroid use had any behavioural effect on any of the individuals.
He told the court evidence the attackers appeared ‘hyper’ or ‘wild eyed’ did not necessarily indicate they were affected.
A forensic scientist confirmed that one of the victims, Xavier Thomas, had been hit by the attackers’ van before he fell into the Thames.
Dr Louissa Marsh said examination of the Renault van and Mr Thomas’s jeans provided ‘strong support’ for the proposition they were in contact.
An examination of particles in the van showed suspected driver Zaghba, 22, was closest to the deployment of the air bag.
But she was unable to prove he was behind the wheel from the forensic evidence alone.
Mr Thomas, 45, Christine Archibald, 30, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, Sara Zelenak, 21, Kirsty Boden, 28, Sebastien Belanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39 all died in the atrocity.
The inquest into the victims’ deaths continues.
Pictured: the battered Renault van used by terrorists during the attack on London Bridge in 2017, leaving it with its bumper hanging off
The terrorists tied 12-inch knives to their wrists with tape before they launched their attack
Who were the victims of the London Bridge terror attack?
Spaniard Ignacio Echeverria was stabbed to death as he tried to fight off the terrorist attackers with his skateboard.
The 39-year-old had been in the UK for over a year was working as a financial crime analyst at HSBC.
Mr Echeverria joined unarmed police constables Wayne Marques and Charlie Guenigault in fighting off the three attackers as they set upon Marie Bondeville, hitting at least one terrorist with his skateboard.
‘His courageous efforts were to seek to stop the attack,’ Chief Coroner Mark Lucraft said.
Mr Echeverria was the youngest of five siblings and was a Catholic who went to mass every week. He could speak English, German and French fluently.
Nurse Kirsty Boden was fatally stabbed as she tried to tend to the wounded and the dying.
Miss Boden, 28, moved to London in 2013 from the small town of Loxton, in South Australia.
She was a senior staff nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital and lived with her British boyfriend James Hodder in a flat in Hampstead.
Mr Hodder said: ‘She loved people and loved her life helping others. To Kirsty, her actions that night would have been an extension of how she lived her life.’
Alexandre Pigeard was working as a waiter at Boro Bistro when he was attacked.
The 26-year-old Frenchman had moved to London to further his ambitions as a dance music DJ.
Minutes before he was fatally stabbed, he video-called his father Philippe during a break from work at the French restaurant.
Mr Pigeard had planned to return to France in the autumn of 2017 to help open a restaurant in Nantes and to record an EP with his musician father.
Mr Pigeard senior told the inquest: ‘I’m present here as a devastated father who has lost a child in such circumstances – an inconsolable father.’
James McMullan was stabbed in the chest near the Barrowboy and Banker pub while he was celebrating getting financial backing for his online education company.
The British-Filipino entrepreneur was watching the Champions League final with friends in the pub.
The 32-year-old, from Hackney in East London, was attacked when he stepped outside to have a cigarette.
He had dreamed of helping children without access to education through his e-learning company.
Mr McMullan’s father Simon described his son as ‘funny, charming and clever’ and said ‘his fearlessness could never be underestimated’.
The mother of chef Sebastien Belanger said she does not forgive the terrorists who ‘mutilated and killed him’.
Her 36-year-old son was drinking at the Boro Bistro when he was stabbed repeatedly in the chest.
His mother Josiane Belanger said: ‘We miss him so much, his smile, his joie de vivre. I do not forgive what they did to him.’
Originally from Angers in western France, Mr Belanger started work at the Coq d’Argent in the City and was promoted to the role of head chef.
Australian au pair Sara Zelenak was on the ‘trip of a lifetime’ when she was stabbed to death while on a night out with a friend.
Miss Zelenak’s mother Julie Wallace said ‘every sliding door’ put her daughter in ‘harm’s way’.
‘She was meant to be working and at the last minute she got the night off,’ Mrs Wallace said.
‘At 10pm Sara’s phone rang and her friend said ‘I’ve finished at the rugby’ and so she left her safe haven and walked out into a terrorist attack and was stabbed to death.’
Before leaving for UK in March 2017, Miss Zelenak worked with her stepfather Mark as a crane truck operator in Brisbane to save up for her trip.
Her parents have since set up Sarz Sanctuary to help other families to cope with grief.
Xavier Thomas was walking over London Bridge with his girlfriend Christine Delcros when they were hit by the van.
The 45-year-old father-of-two was catapulted into the Thames and his girlfriend suffered life-changing injuries. His body was recovered downstream three days later.
Mr Thomas, who had arrived in London on the day of the attack, lived near Paris and worked for American Express.
Miss Delcros said: ‘Since Xavier disappeared in such tragic and traumatic circumstances our whole world has fallen apart.’
Canadian tourist Christine Archibald told her fiance Tyler Ferguson she loved him seconds before she was mowed down.
Miss Archibald and Mr Ferguson were walking across London Bridge after dinning at a nearby restaurant when the atrocity unfolded.
Her fiancé said: ‘At one point Chrissy stopped me out of nowhere, grabbed me close and gave me a passionate kiss after telling me she loved me.
‘I remember it being a warm summer’s evening and the sun had just gone down.. And then the attack took place and Chrissy was killed.
‘No words can express how I felt when this happened. I was absolutely devastated and inconsolable. Nothing has ever been the same since.’
Miss Archibald’s engagement ring was lost during the attack, but later recovered from the bridge. Mr Ferguson now wears it on a chain around his neck.