A mother killed instantly in the Manchester Arena attack became a “guardian angel” to her daughter who “amazingly” survived, an inquiry into the bombing has heard.
Michelle Kiss, 45, was “just being a mum” as she waited in the foyer on the evening of 22 May 2017 to collect her youngest child after an Ariana Grande concert, her husband Tony Kiss said.
Kiss had visited the venue “many times” with their three children to watch various concerts and events, he said, including her favourite band, Take That, on six occasions.
“How sad to think that a place that brought so much joy to our family would be the place forever to take away that joy,” he added. “On that fateful night Michelle was just waiting for our daughter. She was just being a mum.
“Michelle died but somehow my daughter survived amazingly and so, so thankfully she was physically unscathed. However, the horrors that she must have witnessed in the aftermath of the explosion are fully known only to herself.
“I like to believe, though, that in their last moments together she brought some comfort to her mum. I also like to think of her at the moment of their parting as her mum’s little guardian angel because I know that Michelle became her guardian angel in that same very moment.”
Why is there a public inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing?
To investigate how, and in what circumstances, 22 people died in the attack at the Manchester Arena on 22 May 2017 and to make any such recommendations as may seem appropriate.
What happened to the inquests?
Sir John Saunders, a retired high court judge, was originally set to hear inquests into the deaths of the 22 people killed in the attack, as well as the bomber, Salman Abedi. But in 2019, the home secretary, Priti Patel, decided the inquests should become a public inquiry in order to keep some evidence secret. A public inquiry allows evidence to be heard in closed sessions.
Will it all be heard in public?
No. Saunders ruled that certain evidence from MI5 and the police should not be made public on national security grounds. Hearing it in open court could “assist terrorists in carrying out the sort of atrocities committed in Manchester”, he said. The rest of the inquiry will be streamed live – sometimes with a short delay – on YouTube.
Why has it taken so long to start?
The inquiry could not begin until all criminal proceedings relating to the attacks had finished. In March, Hashem Abedi, the bomber’s brother, was found guilty of planning the attacks and later sentenced to a minimum of 55 years. Though police are still searching for suspects, no further trials are imminent, meaning the inquiry could finally begin on 7 September 2020. Coronavirus also delayed the start.
What will the inquiry do?
It will establish how the attack unfolded, whether it could have been prevented, how Abedi was radicalised, whether the emergency response to the attack was adequate, and what steps may be taken in future to prevent a recurrence. It will also consider whether lessons have been learned from previous terrorist attacks and whether the right lessons have been learned from this tragedy.
Who will be giving evidence?
Witnesses include officers from Greater Manchester police and the British Transport Police, representatives of the fire and ambulance services and security staff from the Arena, as well as survivors. A number of people who witnessed someone fitting Abedi’s description acting suspiciously in the hour before the attarck will also be called, including one man who says he asked Abedi what was in his rucksack and another who claims to have seen him “praying”.
When will it finish?
As yet unclear, but “spring 2021”. Saunders will then write his report, which will be all made public except a chapter on whether the attack could have been prevented by the security services.
His tribute told of how the couple from Whalley, Lancashire, became childhood sweethearts and later “soulmates”. They married on the beach in Barbados in 1995 and had three children, Dylan, 23, Elliott, 20, and their daughter in 2004.
Their family was “complete” and they were looking forward to “so many more beautiful memories,” said the tribute, read by Mark Dickson, a close family friend who said her sudden death had left “an emptiness”. “The bomb didn’t just destroy the lives of 22 people in the arena that night, it changed the lives of every family member that lost a loved one. They know what I mean,” he added.
Tributes were also read out on Monday to 14-year-old Nell Jones, a “wonderfully talented young girl” who died in the blast. Nell “hated any form of unkindness” and would “protect her friends to the hilt,” said her family, while her school friends recalled their endless shopping trips and spoke of the sadness of life without her.
One of her friends, Alex, told of their fun at joining the Knutsford Young Farmers’ club in early 2017. “This is one of the things I find most upsetting,” she said. “I had never met a girl who was so passionate and positive about life and what exciting times we had to look forward to when we were older. She should be here with us with her contagious smile.”
The commemorative part of the hearings will conclude this week. The public inquiry, chaired by Sir John Saunders, is to examine the background to the attack by suicide bomber Salman Abedi and the response of the emergency services and will conclude next spring.
Credit: Source link