Manchester Arena attack: Father confronted ‘dodgy looking’ bomber minutes before blast

A father described how he confronted the Manchester Arena bomber as he hid behind a wall with his bomb waiting to launch his attack, an inquiry heard.

Chris Wild and his wife Julie Whitley exchanged a “look” as they walked around Salman Abedi, who was sitting with his back against a raised platform, out of sight of the arena doors, with his rucksack beside him.

Ms Whitely said she believed he looked “dodgy” and Mr Wild went back to talk to him, before reporting him to security while they waited in the foyer for their 14-year-old daughter and her friend.

Mr Wild said Abedi had “a big rucksack and it was full”, adding: “I just thought it was strange, it’s a kids’ concert. If that was a merchandiser why wouldn’t he be selling his things there?

“It all seemed very strange to me why he would be there.”

He added: “He was trying to keep out of view and that was reason why I thought it was strange.”

Mr Wild spoke to Abedi, questioning what was in his backpack and why he was there, in a conversation lasting nearly a minute-and-a-half.

He said Abedi first said “he was waiting for somebody”, and then “just kept asking after everything I said what the time was.”

Concerned the backpack may contain a bomb, Mr Wild then alerted Mohammed Agha, the security guard, who shared the suspicions with colleague Kyle Lawler, but Mr Lawler claims he could not get through to his control on the radio.

Mr Wild said there was nothing Mr Agha could have done, adding: “In no way do I blame him because the guy was already in there.”

However, after the bombing, Mr Wild told police: “I felt I was being fobbed off really.”

He told the inquiry: “He said he already knew about him and that was about it really. It was as if he had more important things to deal with.”

Ms Whitley said: “In the back of my head, I didn’t like the look of him. I wasn’t sure, I always try to think the best of people, but I wasn’t sure.

“I can’t think that I thought he had a bomb, but that he could be a terrorist, maybe. He looked dodgy. In the back of my mind I most definitely thought he could be something else. I don’t know what it was.”

She added: “I think I was trying to convince myself that he was a merchandiser and when Chris came back and said the security were aware, I was thinking that’s what he must be. It went out of my mind.”

After the bomb went off, Ms Whitley was badly injured – but they went to the car park to join up with their daughter and her friend before going to hospital, where she was treated for the next 11 days.

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