The ex girlfriend of a British man who was shot dead in the Bataclan terrorist massacre in Paris has described his final moments in a heart-breaking testimony at an inquest into his death.
Nick Alexander, 35, from Colchester, had been selling merchandise for the event on behalf of American rock band, Eagles of Death Metal, who were performing at the time of the attack on 13 November last year.
He was in the Parisian concert venue when the three gunmen stormed the building midway through the gig and opened fire at 10pm. Alexander and 88 others were killed.
Helen Wilson, 49, Alexander’s ex-partner, was with him at the time – the pair had remained friends following their two-year relationship, and Wilson told the inquest how the pair had spent the night together before the terror attacks.
In a written statement read to the inquest at Essex Coroner’s Court, Wilson told of how the pair tried to “play dead” and how she tried to shield Alexander from the bullets, whom she describes as the “love of her life”, before he died in her arms.
“Nick and I were still talking,” says Wilson.
“I told him not to move and keep his eyes closed. We were playing at being dead.”
When someone in the venue screamed, it drew the attention of one of the gunmen who approached the spot where the pair were lying:
“The man was tall and had dark hair, he came in our direction and started shooting. I tried to protect Nick by covering his body with my legs and wrapping my arms,” she says.
Wilson, an American citizen living in France, describes how she felt a “burning sensation” around her legs and could see blood, realising that Alexander had been shot.
“We were holding hands the whole time. He told me that it was hard to breathe so I told him to squeeze my hand and was telling him to stay with me,” the account continues.
Wilson then attempted to give Alexander mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
“I was telling him not to leave me, and that I love him.”
But Nick told her “I’m going to die” and said that he couldn’t breathe.
Despite trying to fight for his life and continue resuscitation attempts, Wilson says that there came a point when she “could tell he had already died.”
“At the time I was holding Nick he felt cold and his eyes had changed, his body was lifeless,” she says.
The inquest heard how Alexander had been hit by two or three bullets from a high-velocity rifle. The senior coroner for Essex, Caroline Beasley-Murray, returned a verdict of unlawful killing.
Following the inquest, Alexander’s older sister, Zoe, paid tribute to him outside the court, telling reporters:
“Nick was a much-loved son, brother, uncle and friend. A strong, gentle, generous and funny man who lived his life to the full. We were blessed to have him in our lives and we miss him beyond measure.”
Images: Rex Features