The mother of the youngest victim of the Manchester Arena bombing has described how she asked her husband to let her die after he broke the news about their daughter.
Saffie-Rose Roussos, eight, was at the Ariana Grande concert with her mother, Lisa Roussos and older sister Ashlee Bromwich.
Lisa and Ashlee were rushed to hospital and lost contact with Saffie, who was carried to ambulances by members of the public.
Lisa told the inquiry how her husband was at her bedside when she regained consciousness.
“The day I woke up from a coma, Andrew held my hand and looked up at me. I instantly knew, Saffie has gone hasn’t she? And he replied, ‘yes.’
“I cried and begged and pleaded with him to let me die too. I can’t look after her. I did die a little that day.”
She said she continued for the sake of her other children but told the inquiry in a video-recorded message: “I am so desperate to hold her close and smell her hair and to feel her cheek on mine. My precious baby girl.”
Her mother described Saffie as a “gentle and shy” but said: “At the same time she loved to be around people, especially friends and family.
“She was a very helpful and pleasing little girl who loved to dance and make people laugh.”
Saffie’s older sister, Ashlee, described her as “the most beautiful and innocent little girl” whose “soul beamed so much joy and energy”.
“How I wish I said yes to every single time she would ask me to play a game with her.
“What I would give to see her running out of those school doors again directly towards me.”
She told the inquiry: ” I have lost the ability to feel such emotions other than grief and anger. It is like falling down a never-ending empty pit of sadness.
“We are here, but not. Our bodies move and our voices can be heard but our minds are absent.
“It doesn’t get easier, just more and more confusing and the constant question of why?
“The things that once bought us joy, don’t. How can we feel joy in our lives without Saffie? She was our joy.
Saffie’s father, Andrew Roussos, was present in the hearing room and addressed the chairman, Sir John Saunders.
“With the greatest respect, what we are all going through, the failures we are all listening to and the excuses we will all sit through needs to stop. Enough is enough.
“If at present, in 2020, we are still learning lessons then nothing will ever change. The biggest lesson and wake-up call should have been 7/7 and 9/11.
“Saffie’s life is not a practice exercise for the security service and emergency services.”
Ariana Grande was Saffie’s favourite singer and her favourite song was One Last Time, her best friend told the inquiry in another video message.
Her friend, now aged 11, described how she took Saffie to her first school disco.
“She loved it. We gave each other facial tattoos with red Sharpie pens and it never came off so we went to the school disco with big red blotches on our face.
“When she’s older I reckoned she would be a famous dancer, I don’t know why, I could just tell.
“I have dreams of Saffie waiting for me at the school gate and I wake up and it isn’t real. I feel torn, I feel broken, and I just miss her so, so much.”