David Dixon texted his girlfriend to say he was safe after last year’s terror attacks in Brussels
David Dixon, 50, messaged partner Charlotte Sutcliffe to say he was safe after Islamic extremists detonated two devices at Brussels airport an hour earlier.
Mr Dixon, who had lived in the city for 12 years, boarded the Metro train at Maelbeek station just after 8am on March 22 last year.
CCTV showed the bomber try to board the train’s crowded first carriage before moving to the second carriage containing Mr Dixon, a coroners’ court was told.
At the hearing this week Hartlepool coroner Malcolm Donnelly said: “Having been unable to gain access he made his way to a second carriage, where he entered just before the train moved off, and almost immediately a blast occurred in the second carriage.”
A counter terrorism police officer involved in the subsequent investigation to the hearing that Mr Dixon was believed to have been sitting next to the bomber Khalid El Bakraoui.
Mr Dixon, the father of an eight-year-old son Henry and originally from Hartlepool, was the only Briton among the 32 people who died in the co-ordinated terror attacks, although several others were among the 320 people injured.
An inquest heard he was killed just after the text, unaware that he was sitting next to the bomber
He died of devastating injuries suffered in the blast and was later identified through dental records and DNA.
The suffering is indiscriminate. Thirty-two people died. There were 320 maimed
El Bakraoui, 27, used a home-made device packed with nuts and bolts, which Mr Donnelly said was intended to cause “maximum damage” to innocent people.
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Photographs of the scene showed carnage and chaos.
Mr Dixon was the only Briton among then 32 people who died in the terror attacks
Ingredients consistent with the bomb used on the train were found by authorities in a flat used by one of the airport bombers, which was described as a bomb-making factory at the inquest.
It was also told that the vast criminal investigation into the attacks is still ongoing.
Mr Donnelly told Monday’s hearing: “The particular depths of obscenity that people use an ostensibly loving God to deliberately kill and maim innocent people is something which is difficult to comprehend.
“The suffering is indiscriminate. Thirty-two people died. There were 320 maimed.”
Brussels terrorist attacks Wed, March 22, 2017
The Brussels airport and Metro bombings in pictures, including the aftermath of the tragic scenes.
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A member of the civil protection holds his face in his hands as he come back from the Maalbeek metro station in Brussels
He added: “Mr Dixon was unlawfully killed clearly, but that doesn’t begin to describe the hurt and the feelings of loss of those that are left behind.”
The train bomber was the younger brother of Ibrahim El Bakraoui, who carried out a suicide bombing at the city’s airport.
He was a known criminal who in 2011 was convicted and jailed for several car-jackings, possession of a number of Kalashnikov rifles and a 2009 bank robbery and kidnapping.
After being released in 2015, El Bakraoui failed to keep his parole appointments and abandoned his address. He was later served with three arrest warrants, one from Interpol, one international, and one European.
Mr Dixon’s partner and mother of his son, grew up in Creswell, Derbyshire before moving to Brussels with Mr Dixon.
Bomber Khalid El Bakraoui used a home-made device packed with nuts and bolts
She had to wait for four days before his death could be confirmed.
The computer expert left his apartment block in a smart southern suburb of Brussels as normal on the fatal Tuesday morning.
He had not realised the city was under attack until told by his aunt Ann Dixon, who texted him from her home in Hartlepool.
But just a few minutes later he messaged his partner as he boarded the metro train on which the huge bomb was detonated as it passed through Maelbeek.
The mammoth explosion occurred just one stop from the European Commission and EU Council buildings at Schuman metro station.
A verdict of unlawful killing was recorded.