Manchester Arena documentary: victim's father tells of moment ‘world fell apart’

Paul Hett blames British Transport Police for their handling of the tragic event

Martyn Hett, one of the 22 killed in the Manchester Arena terrorist attack. PA

The father of Manchester Arena bombing victim Martyn Hett has described how his “world fell apart” when he discovered his son was missing after the attack.

Paul Hett spoke to the makers of the ITV documentary Worlds Collide: The Manchester Bombing about the moment he found out his son, 29, had been at the Ariana Grande concert on May 22, 2017, when terrorist Salman Abedi detonated a bomb, killing 22 people.

“The next morning I got up, jumped in the car, put the radio on and they were saying there had been a bomb at the Manchester Arena," Mr Hett said.

“I remember thinking how absolutely awful for those families, that must be absolutely terrible.

“So I got my mobile phone to see if there were any messages and the text basically said: ‘We don’t want to worry you, but Martyn was at the concert with us and he is missing’.

“My world fell apart.”

A public inquiry into the attack was adjourned last month, with two reports on the background to the bombing, including the radicalisation of Manchester-born Abedi, due to be published this year.

“To kill 22 people or not to kill 22 people. Salman Abedi had a choice,” Mr Hett said.

The inquiry has concluded there were “significant failures” by five British Transport Police officers on duty in the lead-up to the blast, including two of them leaving the arena to buy kebabs on a two-hour break.

“The most damning part of the evidence was the failure of British Transport Police," Mr Hett said. "They were given specific instructions that someone had to be in the City Room during egress and ingress.

“And had British Transport Police been in there it is highly likely very few people would have been killed and Martyn would still be here today.”

STOCKPORT, ENGLAND - JUNE 30: A screen displaying an image of Martyn Hett outside Stockport Town Hall as mourners arrive for his funeral on June 30, 2017 in Stockport, England.  29 year old Martyn Hett was one of 22 people who died in the suicide bombing at Manchester Arena after attending an Ariana Grande concert. Scottish singer Michelle McManus will perform at the service which will be screened outside for anyone who cannot fit inside the venue. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)

A spokesman for the police said: “Substantial changes have been made in British Transport Police since 2017.”

The force said it recognised that there were systemic failings and said improvements were presented to the inquiry in January.

Worlds Collide: The Manchester Bombing will be on ITV at 9pm on Monday and Thursday, and available to watch on catch-up on the ITV Hub.

Updated: April 10, 2022, 11:01 PM