A DOG hiker told last night how she chatted to fugitive terror suspect Daniel Khalife on a park bench the day before his arrest.
Gabriella Lewis said the former soldier, who was on the run after escaping prison, told her he had just left the Army.
She said she noticed his injured ear had been poorly stitched with fishing line and felt uncomfortable because he was sitting so close to her.
Gabriella, 52, said: “To break the ice I said, ‘Nice day, isn’t it?’.”
“He replied, ‘I just got out of the army,’ which I thought was a strange way to start a conversation. I just said, ‘Oh. That’s good’.
“I thought if he had just gotten out of the army he might be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, so I tried to be nice to him.”
Khalife, 21, was finally arrested on Saturday after a 75-hour manhunt involving 150 anti-terrorism police officers.
Yesterday he was charged with fleeing HMP Wandsworth and is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today.
It came as about 40 inmates were moved from the Category B prison in what Justice Minister Alex Chalk described as “a major precautionary measure” during the investigation into its breakout.
Khalife was awaiting trial in Wandsworth. He was accused of planting a fake bomb at his barracks in Staffordshire and gathering information that could be useful to terrorists.
Last Wednesday, he escaped by strapping himself under a food delivery truck and wearing a chef’s uniform, which was common in the prison.
He was caught on Saturday morning in Northolt – 12 miles from the prison.
A day earlier, Gabriella said he sat next to her on a bench at Chiswick House and Gardens in west London.
She said: “Considering he had been on the run for two days he didn’t look dirty at all. He actually looked very clean.
“But his ear looked like something was missing or burst. It had stitches, but not like the ones you get from a doctor. It looked like he had used blue fishing line.
“He walked down the path and watched me sitting on the bench.
“He asked me about the time, which I thought was suspicious. I was afraid that if I took my phone out of my bag to check it, he would steal it.
“It felt like he didn’t want to leave the bench. So I told him it was about 9:15 and I had to go. It was such a surreal incident.”