“Goodbye, We are now leaving this world, goodbye. I hope I haven’t disappointed you. Goodbye to all.” A still of Mohamed Saber Nader appears on screen at the opening day of the Grenfell fire inquiry as a spine-chilling audio delivered in calm tones from his last phone call as fire tore through the 24-storey block in west London is played to survivors who broke down in tears.
Speaking through their solicitor, Neda’s brother, wife and son Farhad paid moving tributes to the 56-year-old who ran his own chauffeur business and supported Farhad through engineering studies and countless taekwondo tournaments. Farhad’s medals were lost in the blaze.
His wife Flora remembered his amiable and accepting nature. Her sense of loss was palpable describing the “heavy sense of loss within our hearts which will never go away”. She remembered how he always did everything with a smile and never complaining. She said: “It is just so sad that my beloved husband will not be with us at Farhad’s wedding and will not be there to see and hold his grandchildren or share in the joy of becoming grandparents. Those hopes and our dreams have been shattered.”
The heart-rending accounts and testimonies kept pouring in as the Judge Moore-Bick-led inquiry attempts to unravel the causes of the UK’s worst residential fire disaster in history which claimed 72 lives on the night of 14 June 2017.
Logan Gomes was officially designated as the youngest fatality from the tragic fire. An ultrasound scan showed his development inside the womb which was cut short as he was delivered still-born two months away from his due date. His father, Marcio Gomes trembled as he mouthed the words: “So this was our little star, Logan Gomes. His due date was on the 21st of August (2017) but instead he was born on the 14th of June.
“You never know what you are made of until you’re broken. And I can tell you this, my wife, she is made of the hardest material I know and without her strength and courage I would not be here,” Gomes says sobbing as he leans over to console his wife Andreia who wipes away her tears.
As an image of the still-born Logan appears with his eyes closed, Gomes still crying, described how it looked like their newborn son had only been sleeping “as babies do”. The only consolation was that they were able to cradle him. “He was so peaceful, so restful,” Gomes trails off.
Anne Marie Murphy was the sister of 56-year-old Denis Murphy who died in the fire. He was survived by an only son, Peter and his ex-wife who Murphy said continued to be his life-long friend. Denis had a routine of calling her, his son, and brothers once a week signing off with an affectionate “love you son, love you mum, love you bruv [brother] and love you sis [sister]”.
Murphy likened the fate of those who perished in the inferno to “death forced upon them in such an horrific way”. Denis spoke to one of his brothers Tim for the final time as he told him about the fire at Grenfell Tower. None of his three siblings imagined that would the last time they spoke to Denis reassuring him they were on their way to rescue him. Anne Marie summed up their feelings about their loss saying: “Ever since Denis has been gone, there’s been a gaping hole in our hearts that can never be filled. And it hurts. It really hurts. We can’t imagine a day when it won’t hurt any less.
“The pain, loss and sorrow we feel is indescribable and has left us devastated. We, as a family, feel strongly that there is no reason in the world why anyone should have death forced upon them in such an horrific way and the day Denis died, a part of all of us died too.”
The inquiry also heard a tribute to promising fine art photographer Khadija Saye, who died in the fire aged just 24 with her mother Mary Mendy, 52, an immigrant from Gambia in West Africa.
Saye had just broken through in the art world with an exhibition of self-portraits at the prestigious Venice Biennale, where three buyers had bid for her work. She was a friend of Tottenham MP David Lamy who also attended the inquiry.
Apart from the public inquiry the police are also conducting a criminal investigation which could result in charges against organisations or individuals involved in the construction, maintenance or refurbishment of the tower owned by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
The inquiry faces the daunting task of establishing the root causes of the fire from eye-witness accounts, videos and photos, expert evidence and the paper trail of the tower’s history since it was built in 1974.