Westminster Bridge terrorist stabbed hero cop Keith Palmer 12 times and armed police were too far away to prevent his death

He ploughed a rented car through a crowd of pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before launching an attack on the officer stationed at the gates to the Palace of Westminster on March 22 last year.

Masood fatally injured four people in just 30 seconds before running towards 48-year-old PC Palmer armed with two knives.

The inquest into their deaths today heard the terrorist's 4×4 was as "lethal as a knife or gun" as the Palace of Westminster's security system "completely failed" and had not "functioned for years".

Armed officers were in place outside the Houses of Parliament but too far away to protect PC Palmer.

Earlier in the inquest the court was told there had been a change of tactics from having armed guards in fixed positions at the gates to using patrolling firearms officers.

PA:Press Association3

Westminster attacker Khalid Masood died as he looked for another victim on his way to the Houses of Parliament

PC Lee Ashby, one of two authorised firearms officers (AFOs) who was on duty in New Palace Yard when Masood struck, said he would have taken the shot if he had been on a fixed post at Carriage Gates.

He and colleague PC Nicholas Sanders were instead positioned at the other side of the yard where they could not see or hear the carnage unfolding, and no AFOs had been near the gates for almost an hour.

PC Ashby said he was responsible for patrolling "sector three", including the Members' Entrance, Carriage Gates and College Green.

The experienced marksman accepted it was not possible to provide effective cover for the gates on his patrol and agreed the system left unarmed officers unprotected at the entrance "more often than not".

Dominic Adamson, representing PC Palmer's widow Michelle, said: "The system of security at the Palace of Westminster completely failed to protect PC Palmer on that day?"

PC Ashby replied: "It would seem so, sir."

The barrister continued: "Because it had not functioned for years?"

"Based on the sector three map, which I was responsible for, yes," the officer replied.

PM Theresa May, who was in Parliament at the time, said the attack was "sick and depraved" and struck at values of liberty, democracy and freedom of speech.

Consultant forensic pathologist Dr Robert Chapman today told the inquest the fatal blow was an 18cm deep stab wound struck with severe force under PC Palmer's left arm, which damaged a rib before puncturing the officer's lung and heart.

"In my opinion this injury was not a survivable one," he said, adding that PC Palmer would not have survived whatever medical attention he had received.

Dr Chapman also detailed a stab wound to PC Palmer's head as well as a stabbing injury that went completely through his left arm.

The official cause of death was given as haemorrhage as a result of a stab wound to the chest.

Kurt Cochran, 54, Leslie Rhodes, 75, Aysha Frade, 44, and Andreea Cristea, 31, were killed after being hit by the Hyundai Tucson.

The inquest at the Old Bailey heard Mr Cochran, Mr Rhodes, and Ms Frade, suffered "unsurvivable" injuries during Masood's rampage on Westminster Bridge.

Last week we told how Melissa Cochran, whose husband died saving her, recalled the moment she saw a car “revving” towards her.

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