The attempted terror attack on Liverpool Women’s Hospital last year had the potential to be bigger than the Manchester Arena bombing, according to a senior coroner.
On November 14 last year, Emad Al Swealmeen pulled up as a passenger in a Delta taxi outside the maternity hospital’s entrance and set off a bomb at 10.59am.
The taxi driver, David Perry, escaped from the vehicle seconds before the explosion and Al Swealmeen died when his homemade explosive went off in the back of the car. Shattering the windows the vehicle, the homemade bomb also caused injury to Mr Perry’s ear, but he was treated and later discharged from hospital.
Despite the attack being declared as a terrorist incident the following, the exact target and motivation remain unclear.
Addressing a meeting of Liverpool Council’s social care and health committee at Liverpool Town Hall, Andre Rebello, said how “unfortunate it was that it happened” and fortunate it wasn’t worse.
Mr Rebello said: “It would have stretched our resources and overwhelmed us. It could have been bigger than the Manchester Arena.”
On May 22, 2017, 22 people were – including a number of children – after an explosion tore through a pop concert at Manchester Arena. More than 800 other people received physical or psychological injuries in the blast at an Ariana Grande concert. Terrorist Salman Abedi was named as the suicide bomber who carried out the attack.
An independent public inquiry found that the operators of the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena “took an unacceptable approach” to ensuring adequate healthcare services were available at the venue. Emergency services across Greater Manchester were also heavily criticised in a report released earlier this month.
In a statement Kathryn Thomson, chief executive of Liverpool Women’s Hospital, said: “Although a year has passed the events of that Sunday in November have left their mark on the Trust and things will never quite be the same. The incident was extremely traumatic and upsetting for everyone in the city, not least our staff, our patients, their families and our local community.
“Whilst we can be grateful that the absolute worst did not happen, there is no escaping the fact that there was the intent to cause significant harm to NHS staff, pregnant women, newborn babies, their families and other people who were in our care. The scars on our buildings have diminished but some of the deeper scars of that terrible intent remain.”
She added: “Fortunately, events like these are rare and Liverpool Women’s feels like a safe place again but everyone connected to the Trust will never forget the events of that day.”
Taxi driver Mr Perry, 46, said he can “can still smell the burning” after the attack last year and feared other terrorists would come looking for him in the weeks after the explosion. Even on the evening of the explosion, he remembered staying up late with his wife to see his attacker’s face unveiled on the news.