A grief-stricken father told today how he held his stillborn son just hours after the Grenfell Tower blaze and prayed for a “miracle”.
Marcio Gomes’s wife Andreia and two daughters were all in a coma after the family escaped from their 21stfloor home in the North Kensington block at about 4am on June 14 last year.
Breaking down in tears, Mr Gomes told the opening of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry hearings: “I held my son in my arms that evening, hoping it was all a bad dream, wishing, praying for any kind of miracle... that he would just open his eyes, move, make a sound.”
Mr Gomes was giving the first of a series of powerful and deeply-moving tributes at the inquiry from some of the relatives of the 72 who died.
Logan was born after doctors at King’s College Hospital told Mr Gomes that the baby’s heart had stopped beating and they needed to deliver him to protect his mother.
Sitting on stage with his wife and their legal team, Mr Gomes showed the ultrasound picture of Logan, as well as a picture of the words “Twinkle Twinkle little star, do you know how loved you are” which were written on wall of the nursery that had been prepared for him.
IT manager Mr Gomes said the family had made various adventurous plans for after Logan’s birth, which should have been in August last year, and he was going to be a football fan of Liverpool and Benfica.
“He was going to be my superstar,” he said. “He might not be here physically, but he will always be here in our hearts forever.”
Many in the packed conference room were moved to tears as Mr Gomes spoke. He also praised his wife’s courage and strength as the family have had to face “our hardest battle”.
“Your never know what you are made of until you are broken. I can tell you this, my wife is made of the hardest material we know,” he added.
“He looked like he was just sleeping,” Mr Gomez said of Logan. “At least we were able to hold him and be with him.
"Our sleeping angel he was. We let him go with the doves so that he can fly with the angels. We are proud of him even though he was with us for only seven months.”
Farhad Neda, who lost his father Mohamed Neda in the fire, told the inquiry how all their treasured photos were gone.
Farhad told how he travelled the world with his father — known as Saber — while competing and winning medals in taekwondo tournaments.
“My dad worked hard to support me in this sport, to the extent that regardless of working a night shift, he would not hesitate to come home, pick me up, and drive me to competitions all over the country”, he said. “I know he was very proud of me and my achievements in taekwondo.”
Relative Hisam Choucair, 40, is due tomorrow to deliver six pen portraits to the inquiry, which will hear tributes, statements and pre-recorded videos over the next two weeks.
“Reading the pen portraits is going to rip me up inside,” he said. “But they (the Government) have to see this.
“A lot of people are responsible but they are too cowardly or callous to admit it.”
Adel Chaoui lost four relatives in the blaze — his cousin Farah Hamdan, her husband Omar Belkadi and two of their daughters, Malak, eight, and Leena, six months. The only survivor was their middle child, Tasnim, six.
Mr Chaoui was integral in forcing Theresa May to appoint additional inquiry panel members for its second phase, which will investigate how the tower became exposed to the risk of a major fire.
He said: “As for my hopes and my fears, it’s that a then five-year-old child who lost her entire family, does not grow up campaigning for truth, justice and accountability.”
Among the first victims due to be commemorated were Denis Murphy, 56, whose body was found on the 14th floor, Mohamed Amied Neda, 57, who died after trying to help people on the 23rd floor where he lived, Joseph Daniels who lived on the 16th floor, as well as Mary Mendy, 54, who lived on the 20th floor with her artist daughter Khadija Saye, 24, who also died in the fire.
Major inquiries including into Bloody Sunday, the Iraq War and the Hillsborough football disaster have dragged on for years, prolonging the agony for many families.
However, Grenfell Inquiry chairman, Sir Martin Moore-Bick promised relatives of the victims that it would deliver “justice for the living and a fitting tribute to the dead”.
At the opening of the hearings at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in Kensington, retired judge Sir Martin said: “What we shall hear and see over the coming days may be described as memorials, they are in truth much more than that.
"They are an integral part of the evidence before the inquiry. They will remind us of its fundamental purpose and the reason why it is so important that the truth be laid bare.
"Only by achieving that goal can we ensure justice for the living and a fitting tribute to the dead.”
A 72-second silence — a second for each of the victims — was held and the names of those who died were read out at the start of proceedings.
The first phase of the inquiry, which will investigate how the fire started and spread, will also hear from safety experts and firefighters.