Woman ‘played dead’ on terror beach attack in Tunisian

The Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Sousse, Tunisia, 27 June 2015. At least 39 people were killed in the terror attack in the Tunisian beach resort Sousse - most of them tourists. Photo: ANDREAS GEBERT/DPA
The Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Sousse, Tunisia, 27 June 2015. At least 39 people were killed in the terror attack in the Tunisian beach resort Sousse - most of them tourists. Photo: ANDREAS GEBERT/DPA

The inquest into the deaths of holidaymakers killed in a terrorist attack at a Tunisian resort heard how a woman ‘played dead’ to save her own life.

Allison and Philip Heathcote had only arrived in the Mediterranean resort of Sousse the day before gunman Seifeddine Rezgui killed 38 tourists at the five-star Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel on June 26 2015.

I decided my best chance of survival was to play dead

Mrs Heathcote said she lay still on the sand after being shot five times by Rezgui as she and Philip, 53, relaxed on sunbeds, in a statement read to the inquest at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Tomorrow the hearing is due to be told how Blackpool couple Denis and Elaine Thwaites were killed by the gunman.

Mrs Heathcote said that, as she lay wounded, the killer walked away, before she then heard the gunshots getting closer again.

She said: “I was fearing for my life. I stayed laying on the sand, trying not to move and draw attention to the fact that I was still alive.

“I decided my best chance of survival was to play dead.”

She added: “At the first opportunity I was asking Philip if he was all right. There was no response from Philip and I realised he had not made it.”

Mrs Heathcote, then 48, who lived with her husband in Felixstowe, Suffolk, was shot in the arm and abdomen 
and spent a month in an induced coma, the inquest heard.

In her statement she said she experienced a “stinging pain” after being shot in the arm. But she had not initially realised how badly she had been hurt, putting it down to the fear and adrenaline.

Heathcote died from gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen, the inquest heard.

The inquest has previously heard criticism of local law enforcement, who were accused in a Tunisian investigation into the mass killing of deliberately delaying their arrival at the scene to confront Rezgui.

The inquest continues.