Pub Bomb Victim's Brother Tells Of Last Time He Saw His Sister Alive

26 February 2019, 16:30 | Updated: 26 February 2019, 16:33

Brian Hambleton

The older brother of a Birmingham pub bombings victim has told an inquest he felt like he had "literally driven my sister to her death" on the night she died.

Brian Hambleton's sister, 18-year-old Maxine Hambleton, was killed in the Tavern in the Town when IRA bombs detonated in two city centre pubs on November 21 1974.

The victims' families have had a 44-year wait for inquests to resume into their loved ones' deaths, after they were initially halted in the 1970s because of the Birmingham Six criminal trial.

On Tuesday, in a pen portrait of his sister, Mr Hambleton told jurors he was the last family member to see her alive.

Miss Hambleton, who died without knowing she had won a place studying law at a Birmingham university, was out with friend and fellow victim Jane Davis.

At the time she was working at Miss Selfridge in the Lewis department store, the former site of which is just a few steps from Birmingham Civil Justice Centre, where the hearings are taking place.

Her brother dropped Miss Hambleton in town in his car on the night of November 21, in return for her ironing his shirt.

She was in the city to meet friends and give out invitations for her house-warming party.

Mr Hambleton, describing his sister as "very intelligent, clever and arty", said: "I remember Maxine telling me she was going into town to hand out these invitations.

"As she was going out I asked her if she wouldn't mind ironing my shirt for me. I didn't know how to use an iron and I could drop her in town to save her time and the bus fare.

"I will always remember her closing the car door and walking away from me, waving at me. My joyful, carefree, upbeat, talented sister I would never see again.

"The next day, at approximately 9.30am, I recall the college principal entering the room, requesting my attendance. It was then I knew my sister was dead.

"I couldn't believe my sister had been murdered so violently and I was the last family member to see my gifted, talented sister alive. A light that was extinguished forever.

"I had literally driven my sister to her death."

Her youngest sister, Julie Hambleton, said: "She was born to set the world on fire, no matter what she did or where she went, she made and left a huge impression on whomever she met.

"She was so vivid and energised, full of life and vigour, ready to take on whatever life had to offer."

Maxine, who was studying French, had saved to spend summer 1974 in the French champagne vineyards, to brush up on her language skills, jurors heard.

She made her own clothes and fabricated trendy pairs of flared trousers for her younger sisters, Julie Hambleton recalled.

She told jurors: "Her dream was to become a lawyer and all our family think she would have been a fine, ethical and moral one.

"She would have been the first in our family to go to university, but the sad thing was she died without ever knowing that she had won a place.

"To remember her is not an easy thing to do because any memories we have quite simply ignite the heart-rending agony of not having this beautiful soul in our lives."