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As Parsons Green attacker's jailed, pastor remembers watching bomb detonate

A Christian pastor has described 'standing toe to toe with death' after the bomb which could have been much worse.

The teenage asylum seeker responsible has been jailed for at least 34 years for planting the Parsons Green Tube bomb which injured 51 passengers.

Ahmed Hassan pretended to engage with the anti-terrorism Prevent scheme as he plotted mass murder in the capital last September.

On the tube at the time was Rev Rob Pickering from Selhurst Church in Croydon who left his home earlier than usual to go to Fulham from Wimbledon with a church elder.

Speaking to Premier, Pickering described the moment the bomb went off: "There was a very strange chemical smell that filled the air just micro-moments before a very large and loud explosion. It was a deep, bass-like boom that filled the carriage.

"It echoed from the carriage and that was almost simultaneously accompanied by a loud cries and screams and really just a mass panic."

Rob Pickering was about 15 feet away from the package: "I was facing towards the bomb…it had been placed on the floor there in the door way…I saw the fireball sort of ripping towards us - I immediately knew my life was in danger."

Describing what it was like after the bomb went off, he said: "I felt as though impending doom was fast approaching and there we were, in a sense standing toe to toe with death."

Rob had done two training courses with the Met police about what to do in a terror attack, which prompted him to speak to a TfL member of staff about evacuating the station.

After leaving Parsons Green station, Rob and his church elder prayed together: "There on the street below, just outside the station, we had a prayer meeting. And I remember praying clearly, the two of us together - we thanked God for his incredible mercy, for his protection, his deliverance, his amazing grace.

"We prayed there would be no life threatening injuries, we prayed for the mental and emotional wellbeing of those that were there and we prayed for our forces, especially that they'd be helped to bring the perpetrators to justice."

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