UK

Tunisia attack: Survivor says husband was a hero

Stephen Mellor and his wife Cheryl Image copyright SWNS
Image caption Stephen and Cheryl Mellor had been relaxing on the beach when the gunman attacked

A British woman who survived the mass shootings at a Tunisian beach resort said her "hero" husband sacrificed his life to protect her.

Stephen Mellor, 59, died when Islamist gunman Seifeddine Rezgui shot him and his wife, Cheryl, on the beach.

Mrs Mellor told an inquest Rezgui "seemed to enjoy looking at us squirm" as he pulled the trigger.

Rezgui killed 38 people - 30 of them Britons - at the five-star Riu Imperial Marhaba, near Sousse, in June 2015.

In her statement, read out at London's Royal Courts of Justice, Mrs Mellor said: "I am only here today due to the bravery of my husband, Stephen.

"We were being shot and he protected me. Stephen stayed and saved me. He sacrificed himself. Stephen is a hero to me."

Mr Mellor, a father of three from Bodmin, Cornwall, died after being shot in the chest and abdomen.

Mrs Mellor, who was shot in the leg and wrist, suffered life-changing injuries.

"I believe the suspect was working to a plan. He was killing mainly British tourists," she told the inquest.

The couple, who were looking forward to retirement, had been relaxing on sun loungers when they heard a "huge bang sound" at about noon.

Mrs Mellor said the initial blasts were "really close", and her husband said: "Oh my God, this is going, really going, down."

Image caption Thirty of the 38 people killed by a gunman on a Tunisian beach were British

The couple could see the gunman standing at the edge of the sun loungers holding a weapon about 20 inches long, the inquest was told.

Mr Mellor was on the ground telling his wife: "Oh my God, I love you."

She said she could see a woman's feet nearby.

"I heard a shot and saw her foot jump and assumed she was shot dead," Mrs Mellor said.

The couple then told each other "if one of us survive, we will tell the kids that we love them".

Fellow holidaymaker Allen Pembroke, 61, gave Mrs Mellor some water as he helped those injured on the beach.

After he reluctantly told her Mr Mellor was dead he offered to carry her away, but she refused to leave her husband.

Mr Mellor did not live to see the birth of his third grandchild, a boy called Thomas Stephen, who was named after him.

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Media captionTunisia inquest shown police map of killer's spree

Suzanne Davey, 43, a mother of three from Tamworth, Staffordshire, was also killed alongside her partner Scott Chalkley, 42, a lifelong Arsenal fan and former Royal Fusilier from Chaddesden, Derby.

The inquest continues on Thursday.

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