‘I THOUGHT POLICE WERE FANATICS’ – tube driver tells Menezes inquest

MARIA OTONE DE MENEZES (centre) holds a picture of her son Jean Charles De Menezes on a march to parliament
MARIA OTONE DE MENEZES (centre) holds a picture of her son Jean Charles De Menezes on a march to parliament

A Tube driver risked getting electrocuted and fled into a tunnel at Stockwell station because he was terrified that ‘fanatics’ had shot dead Jean Charles de Menezes, the young Brazilian’s inquest heard yesterday.

De Menezes had seven bullets fired into his head by Metropolitan Police firearms officers at point-blank range on 22 July 2005.

Driver Quincy Akpesiri Oji jumped off the platform and ran across ‘live’ tracks after seeing officers open fire.

The inquest jury at the Oval cricket ground heard how he was convinced police were extremists firing at passengers.

In a statement read out in the courtroom, Akpesiri Oji said: ‘I got to the Stockwell Tube station just before 10am.

‘When I got there the light was red. This was unusual.’

He continued: ‘I then heard people screaming and I looked at the monitor at the front of the train.

‘I heard gunshots. There were about 15 of them.

‘I saw one of the men with a large gun shooting and I thought they were fanatics and they were shooting at people on the carriage.’

Akpesiri Oji said he had been ‘scared’ as the tracks were live and trains were approaching nearby.

He said: ‘Someone flashed a light into the tunnel.

‘I said “please do not shoot – I am the driver”.’

He added: ‘I stood there with my back against the wall for about 20 seconds.’

On Tuesday, the inquest was told by a passenger who had been sitting near de Menezes on the tube train that police were ‘a bit out of control’ before they opened fire.

Anna Dunwoodie said the innocent Brazilian closed his eyes and appeared ‘almost calm’. She added: ‘I guess he had a gun pressed to his head and there was not anything he could do about it.’

She described scenes of panic among police, insisting she was ‘very, very clear’ that the police did not shout any warnings before shooting de Menezes dead.

Dunwoodie said the armed men seemed ‘full of adrenaline’ adding ‘I felt they were a bit out of control, that’s what it felt like.’

A surveillance officer, using the code name Ivor, had previously told the inquest that de Menezes had stood up and walked towards him as police challenged him.

But Dunwoodie said she did not recall that happening.

She said she felt ‘most frightened’ of Ivor, who had also sat near her on the train.

She said: ‘He did make me feel very nervous. My attention was drawn to him. He seemed to have stuff in his bag and there seemed to be a metallic noise.’

Three passenger witnesses who sat near the carriage doors where firearms officers opened fire also said they had no recollection of any warnings from armed police.