AN INVESTMENT banker was standing so close to London bomber Shehzad Tanweer that his left eye was struck by a fragment of the bomber’s shinbone when he detonated his explosive device.
Philip Duckworth, 41, told the “astonishing” story yesterday of how he was catapulted from the train in the Aldgate bombing before being left for dead on the tracks.
As he learnt for the first time yesterday that he had also been on the London-bound service taken by all four bombers in 2005, Mr Duckworth described his outrage as he woke up on the tracks and men in orange jackets walked past him.
He said: “There was a guy with a torch. They sort of looked down and he said, ‘Oh no, this one’s gone’, and then sort of moved on.
At that point I was like, ‘No I’m not, hang on a second, I’m not gone’. That’s when I forced myself to my knees and got up.”
Lady Justice Hallett, the coroner presiding over the July 7 inquests, told him: “You’ve reduced us all to silence. It is an astonishing story. The idea that you could be so close to the bomb, be blown out of the carriage and still be here to tell your story is amazing.”
Mr Duckworth, who was blinded in the attack, now uses a prosthetic eye “which by all accounts looks very realistic”.
The married father looked surprised as Hugo Keith, QC, counsel leading the inquests, informed him that he had been on the Thameslink train which was used by the four bombers, although Mr Duckworth got on at St Albans rather than at Luton.
He exited at Farringdon, changing to the Circle Line, while the bombers continued to King’s Cross. When the bomb went off, Mr Duckworth saw a “bright white flash” but initially believed that he had fallen from the train.
“I woke up, in the very loosest sense of the word, on the rails. I had the fleeting thought that I’d fallen out of the train and it was just me, and the train had gone. I was aware of being very uncomfortable. I could feel [the] rail under the back of my legs,” he said.
“It was very difficult but I managed to get to my knees. I got on my feet, I staggered to the wall of the Tube. I put my hands on the wall to catch my breath. It felt like I was winded.”
He was then noticed by people in the tunnel and firemen took him away on a ladder which was being used as a makeshift stretcher. “I’ll be honest with you, I was glad of anything at that point,” he said.
Colin Pettet, who was among the survivors who helped Mr Duckworth, broke down while giving evidence as he recalled how he could not find a pulse on the body of a man lying nearby on the tracks.
Mr Pettet was in the bombed carriage but made his way off and started to walk away when he saw a badly injured woman and a male body, lying face down. “I tried to get a pulse from his arm. I couldn’t find a pulse. He appeared dead. His clothes had been blown off. He wasn’t moving.”
The woman, Thelma Stober, who lost a leg in the blast, was screaming that “she was dying”. When she complained of the cold, Mr Pettet gave her his coat and sat with her for about half an hour until emergency services reached them.
A police officer had earlier become upset after describing the “absolute mayhem” he witnessed in the wake of the Aldgate bomb, which killed seven people.
Detective Inspector Ian Baker, a British Transport Police officer with 19 years’ experience, had been asked whether he had since talked about the “terrible things” he witnessed that day. He replied: “I have just kept them [inside].”
Earlier, when he was questioned about what he told the control room after hearing that there had been incidents elsewhere in London, Mr Baker told the hearing: “It is very, very difficult to make an operational decision [about places other than Aldgate] based on that, when you have got absolute mayhem in front of you and people dying.”
Lady Justice Hallett, who is sitting without a jury, told him he had “done everything that could reasonably have been expected” of him.
The hearing continues on Monday.