Tunisia attack: Boy tried to shield grandfather
A teenager tried to shield his grandfather during the Tunisia terror attack in which his brother and uncle were also killed, an inquest has heard.
Owen Richards, who was 16 at the time, was helping Charles Patrick Evans, 78, try to escape as Seifeddine Rezgui hunted for victims at a beach hotel.
Mr Evans, his son Adrian Evans, 49, and grandson Joel Richards, 19, were all shot dead at the Sousse beach resort.
They were among 38 people killed in the attack in June 2015.
The inquests at the Royal Courts of Justice heard how the West Midlands family, who were enjoying the first day of a “boys’ outing”, fled from the outdoor pool area after hearing gunshots from the direction of the beach.
Once inside, they pressed the button for the lift but decided not to wait for it to arrive and ran to the indoor pool as Rezgui made his way around the corner.
In a police interview back in the UK, Mr Richards had told officers: “On the way granddad kept falling over so he was not very fast.
“I saw the person running after us and he just came around the corner. Clearly we knew he had caught up with us.
“Ade dived down and laid down. I was still holding granddad, trying to help him run.”
As the gunman approached, Owen and Mr Evans – known to his family as Pat – fell to the floor.
“I was hugging granddad on the floor and then I could see out of my right-hand corner my brother and seeing him dive to the floor,” Mr Richards said.
“Then Joel screamed – I think he shouted ‘no’ three times, like pleading him to stop.
“He lifted the gun up and I closed my eyes, then I heard a bunch of shots.”
Mr Richards described seeing Mr Evans was wounded, before adding: “Granddad just said, ‘He’s got me.'”
Rezgui moved closer and shot Mr Evans again at close range as Mr Richards was still clinging to his grandfather.
Realising his brother was lying nearby, Mr Richards said: “I hit his foot a few times, telling him to get up.
“You could see in his eyes that he was not alive – there was no life in his eyes.”
Mr Richards’s mother, Suzanne, told the hearing that her eldest son had been “robbed” of his future at just 19.
Joel Richards, from Wednesbury, had been a football referee. He was later posthumously recognised with a BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero Special Award.
“Part of me died that day when my beautiful child was taken from me,” said Mrs Richards, on day 11 of the inquests into the 30 British victims of the attack on 26 June 2015.
The four relatives, from the West Midlands, had booked the holiday to celebrate Owen finishing his GCSE exams, she said.
“This last holiday was just for the boys,” Mrs Richards said. “It was their jolly boys’ outing, just like Only Fools and Horses.”
Mrs Richards said: “We take comfort that they stayed together in their last moments – protecting each other.”
In a BBC interview in 2015, Owen Richards said he missed his “perfect big brother” Joel every day. “He was definitely someone to look up to,” he said.
The inquest at the Royal Courts of Justice in London heard that the group had been to Tunisia twice before.
Now Charles Evans’s wife, who is 73 and grandmother to the two boys, “struggles every day”, the hearing heard.
“She is heartbroken, her only son, her first grandson and she has lost her husband of 52 years,” said Mrs Richards.
Adrian Evans, from Tipton in the West Midlands, had been “like a father figure” to Joel and Owen, she said.
Source: BBC – UK News