London attack: Khalid Masood hid 'dark' plan

Debbi Hall

A manager at the hotel in East Sussex where Khalid Masood stayed before carrying out the Westminster attack has spoken of her shock.

Debbi Hall said Masood came across as a "very pleasant man" when she met him.

"He was in fact a very dark person who was about to cause a lot of damage to people's lives," she said.

Masood killed a total of four people after driving his car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge on 22 March and fatally stabbing a police officer.

Masood was shot dead within the grounds of the Palace of Westminster by police after attacking PC Keith Palmer.

"It was a tremendous shock, for lots of reasons. Namely, that someone could have made me feel so intrigued by them, when in actual fact he wasn't the person he came across to be.

"He was very well presented, he was dressed modernly, he was very pleasant to me, very smiling and in the booking comments after he had left I actually wrote 'nice man'.

"I felt quite disturbed that someone had influenced me enough to feel that they were a nice man when clearly in his head when he was speaking to me he also had other thoughts of what he was planning to do which was actually quite dark and going to have quite an effect on other people and cause them great sorrow."

Ms Hall said she first met Masood when he came up to the hotel reception desk looking for a room for the night on the day before the attack.

She said he was quite "calm, confident and had no agenda".

"I asked him to fill out the details of his car registration and his address for me," she continued. "At this point, he said 'I don't know my car registration' and he took the registration form and went out to the car park to fill out his registration number."

Masood's inquest was opened by Westminster coroner Fiona Wilcox on Thursday and adjourned until May.

The inquest heard that Masood died from a single gunshot wound to the chest.

The court was told that Kent-born Masood, who lived in Birmingham, mounted the kerb twice in a rented Hyundai car as he sped across Westminster Bridge.

When the 52-year-old mounted it a third time, he crashed the vehicle and then ran into the Palace of Westminster grounds armed with two knives.

Senior investigating officer Supt John Crossley said Masood had been challenged by armed police, before being shot and killed by an officer.

In total Masood's attack lasted just 82 seconds.

An inquest into Masood's four victims - PC Palmer, 48, US tourist Kurt Cochran, 54, retired window cleaner Leslie Rhodes, 75, and college worker Aysha Frade, 44 - was opened and adjourned on Wednesday.

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